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News > Colombia

Colombians Remember the 2021 Social Outbreak

  • The sign reads,

    The sign reads, "Nico was killed by the ESMAD". | Photo: Twitter/ @oscarcristanc13

Published 29 April 2022

From April to July 2021, the anti-riot police and paramilitaries left over 1,200 people injured and 75 citizens dead. The UN Human Rights Office carried out a special investigation on this case.

On April 28, one year after the 2021 national strike against President Ivan Duque's neoliberal policies, Colombians remember police brutality with pain and indignation.


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During a two-month period of massive protests, the anti-riot police and paramilitary groups left over 1,200 people injured and 75 citizens dead, according to local NGOs.The definitive figures of state terrorism, however, are not yet known, despite the fact that the United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) carried out a special investigation.

From April 28 to July 31, 2021, OHCHR's office in Colombia examined 83 videos and conducted over 620 interviews with victims and witnesses of the violence unleashed by the Police's Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) and paramilitary groups.

The OHCHR report showed "instances of unnecessary or disproportionate use of force by police officers, especially ESMAD members, to disperse peaceful protests and blockades. Armed individuals also attacked and fired on demonstrators without the security forces intervening."

Since the presentation of these results in Dec. 2021, however, the situation has not improved substantially. On Thursday, Juliette De Rivero, the representative of the OHCHR's office in Colombia, provided information to the Constitutional Court on the April-July events.

The tweet reads, "This Thursday, April 28, marks one year of the largest social outbreak in Colombia's recent history. El Espectador will premiere the documentary 'Cali, the city of fury'. Was the strike useful?"

During her presentation, she mentioned that many Colombian families still do not know what happened to the victims of the police repression. De Rivero also requested that the lives of the victims and witnesses be protected in order to advance the investigation and determine in detail what happened.

Yesterday, Colombians took to the streets and other public spaces to pay tribute to those who gave their lives protesting against the package of pro-market policies that the Duque regime tried to implement amid a deep recession.

In Bogota, for example, massive rallies were recorded in places such as the Labor Ministry, the Portico Square, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Pedagogical University, the District University, the Prosecutor's Office, and the Ombudsman's Office.

Similar to what happened a year ago, the ESMAD attacked citizens and unleashed episodes of urban clashes. Forty-four people were arrested, one of whom is a U.S. young woman.

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