Colombia's President Ivan Duque on Tuesday assured his administration will have "zero tolerance" for lawbreaking behavior by protesters. This attitude would allegedly also apply to security forces agents who break the law.
Colombia: Duque Keeps Shooting, People Keep Protesting
Nevertheless, "all actions carried out by the Mobile Anti-Riot Squadron (ESMAD) and the Army during demonstrations are protected by the Constitution," Duque said, without mentioning the 40 people who have been killed by police officers in the past two weeks.
"The government guarantees the right to peaceful protests. We ensure that public forces meet the highest standards," he added during a visit to Cali, the epicenter of the protests unleashed against his mandate since April 28.
Although Duque did not acknowledge the police brutality taking place in his country, he urged the Army "to speed up investigations to prosecute officers who abused their authority against protesters."
"Authorities have started 65 disciplinary actions against ESMAD agents. Eight of the judicial processes are related to the killing of protesters and 27 are linked to abuse of authority," Duque said.
The president assured that 667 protesters have been arrested for vandalism, such as obstruction of public roads, damage to property, violence against public officials, theft, and use of dangerous substances.
Duque made this announcement a few hours before the Indigenous peoples' march (Minga Indigena) announced that it will leave Cali and return to Cauca to continue demonstrating against the government from its territory.
Last Sunday, the Minga was attacked with gunfire when it was about to enter Cali to accompany the massive demonstrations that were taking place in the city. At least 10 Indigenous people were wounded amid the clashes.