Iván Duque militarizes Cali in the face of massive protests against him
Some 3,000 soldiers were deployed in the Colombian city of Cali, after the riots that followed massive protests against a tax reform project promoted by the government, authorities reported Friday.
“We are going to militarize the city, because unfortunately the people who went out to make peaceful march (on Wednesday and Thursday) are no longer on the streets, those who are vandals stealing, attacking,” Clara Luz Roldán, governor, told Blu Radio del Valle del Cauca, a department whose capital is Cali.
After an extraordinary security council in the city, Defense Minister Diego Molano reported on the capture of 30 people “engaged in violent acts of the protest” in the city of 2.2 million inhabitants.
The mayor’s office registered more than 20 injuries among civilians and members of the public force, as well as damages in more than 30 buses, eight public service stations and fifty establishments.
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The NGO Temblores maintains that a minor was shot dead by the police during the protests, although the information has not been confirmed by authorities.
Molano announced the arrival of more than 700 soldiers, 500 men from the anti-riot force (Esmad), 1,800 policemen, two helicopters and 60 motorcycles that will support the public forces.
“We are not going to rest until Cali sleeps quietly,” said the minister.
On April 28, tens of thousands of people took to the streets across the country in rejection of a tax reform project promoted by conservative President Iván Duque.
Although the demonstrations were mostly peaceful, there were riots in Bogotá, Cali (southwest), Medellín (northwest) and Pasto (southwest). The excesses persist and have become more acute as the days go by.
According to the latest balance of the authorities, 209 police officers are injured and there were 185 arrests between Wednesday and Thursday.
Although no figures have been given of injured civilians, Tremors registered 46 “victims of physical violence by the police.”
In Pasto, five members of Esmad were burned during the excesses on Thursday. The authorities offer a reward equivalent to about $ 13,400 for information that allows the capture of those who attacked them.
Curfews are in force in all four cities to control the spread of covid-19, which reaches record numbers in a 13-month pandemic.
Workers’ centrals, teachers, civil organizations, indigenous people and other sectors reject the tax reform that is underway in Congress, considering that it punishes the middle class and is inappropriate in the midst of the health crisis.