Colombia
"There are sectors of uribism that want Duque's resignation"
LPO spoke with Colombian analyst Jorge Cuervo, who offered his view on the protests that have been taking place for more than one month. A IACHR mission will arrive on Monday.

On Monday, an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) mission will arrive in Colombia to closely monitor the violation of human rights in the context of the protests that have been going on for more than a month with a death toll of 60.

One of the concerns of the IACHR, as well as the United Nations or Human Rights Watch, refers to missing persons. There are differences in the figures from government agencies and civil society organizations, but the number is estimated to be above 300.

The disappearances take place during protests, but also in what is known as "casa de pique", or police scuffles and raids in poor neighborhoods that end with kidnappings and murders.

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The Immediate Attention Commands (CAI) are also at the center of criticism for being places where all kinds of abuses take place and many are taken to those police headquarters before they disappear.

The police have been criticized for such abuses, which has forced the government of Ivan Duque to present a police reform consisting of "new police disciplinary statutes", such as the implementation of body cameras and modifying the color of the uniform used by its members, which would be changed from green to blue, among other aspects. In any case, the objective of the measure is to show initiative with human rights one day before a mission that can compromise the government is set to arrive.

LPO spoke with Jorge Cuervo, professor and researcher at the Faculty of Government and International Relations of the Externado de Colombia University, who explained that "this began in October of last year with the death of a citizen inside a CAI. It was the first spark of the social upheaval, a first sign as a result of the pandemic and the powers the police had been given." "The CAI are a symbol of indignation because women are detained, kidnapped and sexually abused there," the specialist added.

Cuervo stressed that "the marches are not only in large cities such as Bogotá, Cali or Medellín, but throughout the country, and that had not happened for a long time. Large, medium and small municipalities are mobilized and that shows us that we are facing a new phenomenon".

"The Colombian state and the police had never faced an entire mobilized population before. That overwhelmed them in terms of capacity and quality to control the protests. They're not trained to deal with that. There is excessive police violence that has no rejection from the civilian leadership of the government," he added.

Large, medium and small municipalities are mobilized and that shows us that we are facing a new phenomenon


The professor also recalled the state of internal war that prevailed in the country for decades as part of the conflict with the FARC and recalled that "the police and the government see the citizen who protests as an internal enemy. There is no longer a conflict with the FARC, but the police and this government that opposes the peace agreement do not understand that citizens have the right to protest."

Cuervo said the IACHR will surely focus on the existence of armed civilians in the protests. "It is very likely that in some cases, these are drug traffickers and also the secret police, which should not be there, but are blended with the uniformed men. There is a bit of everything, so you need a mechanism to verify all these facts," he explained.

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Finally, Jorge Cuervo said that "Chile found a political solution with a new constitutional pact; Colombia should materialize the principles and postulates of its own Constitution. Let it become a social state of Law that is supposed to be against exclusion and inequality."

Uribism wants public order to deteriorate so that people want a heavy-handed government next year

In this regard, the specialist said that "the way to do this is with a great agenda of reforms through Congress but I do not think he has that will. There is also talk of a package of reforms to be put to a referendum. That could be a solution." "The government could do it but its legitimacy is very low and its own party is abandoning it," he said.

In addition, he insisted on the need to find a way to get to next year's elections without this level of violence, and said that "there are sectors of uribism such as Fernando Londoño, who want Duque's resignation." "Uribism wants public order to deteriorate so that people want a heavy-handed government next year," he added. 

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