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The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Bob Menendez, expressed concern in a recent statement over the risk the deadly clashes between police and protesters in the Colombian city of Cali poses to regional stability.
Residents in Cali started protesting against an increase in gas prices and utility bills included in state-proposed tax reforms. Over four to five days, the protest movement has spread nationwide. President Ivan Duque called the reform off last Sunday while unleashing a brutal repression wave yielding dozens of protesters dead, hundreds wounded, and thousands arrested. Protesters have continued to rally, calling for a nationwide demonstration on May 5.
"Colombia is a close partner and ally whose stability and success is in the national interest of the US," Menendez tweeted on Tuesday. "I urge Colombian authorities and stakeholders to deescalate & create space for real dialogue to settle political differences and chart a better course for their country.
Colombia es un aliado importante cuya estabilidad y éxito son de gran interés nacional para EEUU. Insto a las autoridades colombianas y al Comité del Paro por favor distender esto y abrir un espacio de diálogo para resolver sus diferencias y entablar un mejor camino para el país. https://t.co/Ikt20JYoMR
— Senate Foreign Relations Committee (@SFRCdems)
May 4, 2021
"Colombia is an important ally whose stability and success are of great national interest to the United States. I urge the Colombian authorities and the Unemployment Committee to please defuse this and open a space for dialogue to resolve their differences and establish a better path for the country."
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said it was "deeply alarmed" by police firing at and killing protesters overnight on Tuesday and expressed its "profound shock" over multiple casualties. According to a statement, the UN agency has been notified of at least 14 deaths, including one officer, since the start of the protests, "the majority" of which have been peaceful so far.
Colombia Temblores NGO's tally:
1,443 police violence cases 216 victims of police physical violence 31 victims of police homicidal violence 814 arbitrary detentions of demonstrators
Colombia's chief human rights official has reported 16 casualties, including one police officer, in the first four days of the protests. According to the Ministry of Defense, to date, 846 people have sustained injuries and 431 have been detained.