Colombia’s Nationwide Protests Explained

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  • Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Colombia’s Nationwide Protests Explained” – below is their description.

    Colombia is facing a wave of criticism from foreign governments and human rights organizations over heavy-handed police tactics during recent protests.

    U.S. House Foreign Affairs chair Gregory Meeks, a Democrat, expressed concern over “excessive use of force”, and warned that the so-called Leahy Law bars the U.S. from supporting security forces involved in severe human rights violations.

    Nationwide protests are ongoing in Colombia where people are outraged about a proposed health care bill, tax hikes and police brutality.

    The Washington Office on Latin America, an NGO which studies human rights in the region, called on the U.S. to suspend sales of crowd control equipment to Colombia’s security forces.

    The European Union and Human Rights Watch also criticized the government.

    At least 20 people have died across the country in recent days in clashes between protesters and security forces. The police said that nearly 600 officers have been injured, and that they have repeatedly been attacked with firearms.

    Defense Minister Diego Molano said that Colombia is facing a “terrorist threat from organized crime gangs” who are seeking to destabilize cities including Bogota, Medellin and Cali.

    Demonstrations erupted last week in protest against a plan by the government of President Ivan Duque to raise taxes. More marches are planned by labor unions Wednesday even though the tax proposal was withdrawn and the Finance Minister resigned.

    Read More: Colombian Finance Chief Quits After Days of Violent Protests

    Masked vandals put dozens of stations of Colombia’s mass transit bus network out of action, while road blocks by protesting truckers have hampered food distribution. Chicken producers say that hundreds of thousands of birds have died because of food shortages caused by the blockades.

    In a statement, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said it will meet with foreign diplomats on Wednesday to explain the situation, and affirmed that Colombia is a law-abiding state which guarantees the right of peaceful mobilization.

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    In This Story: Colombia

    Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia, is a transcontinental country largely in the north of South America, with territories in North America. Colombia is bounded on the north by the Caribbean Sea, the northwest by Panama, the south by Ecuador and Peru, the east by Venezuela, the southeast by Brazil, and the west by the Pacific Ocean.

    The capital is Bogotá, the country’s largest city. With over 50 million inhabitants Colombia is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse countries in the world. The Republic of Colombia was declared in 1886. Panama seceded in 1903.

    Colombia’s territory encompasses Amazon rainforest, highlands, grasslands, and deserts, and it is the only country in South America with coastlines and islands along both the Atlantic and Pacific.

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