Colombia's President Ivan Duque offered a $2,000 reward on Wednesday in exchange for information on vandalism acts during the ongoing protests. However, senators submitted a censorship motion against his Defense Minister after widespread reports of police brutality and 24 confirmed deaths.
Colombia Securiity Forces crack Down on Demonstrators in Bogota
As Colombia sees its second national strike on Wednesday, the latest events highlight the stark contrast between a government that aims to blame protesters for the social unrest by casting conspiracy theories versus the deadly police repression unveiled during the demonstrations to the rest of the world.
"The vandalism threat we face is a criminal organization that hides behind legitimate social aspirations to destabilize society, generate terror among citizens and distract from the actions of the public force. Extreme vandalism and urban terrorism are financed by drug trafficking mafias, as the prosecutor denounced this Tuesday," Duque said on Wednesday.
"#ParoNacional5M Let the world see it, the people decided to recover in the streets the rights that were taken away from them by a regime of death and corruption. It is today in Bogota. #SOSColombiaNosEstanMatando."
Nonetheless, organizations such as the Latin American Council for Social Sciences (CLACSO) are warning of state terror in the country since at least 519 people have suffered police brutality, 1180 have been arbitrarily detained and some of them tortured, and 381 people have been injured as of May 5 according to the Ombudsman's Office.
Moreover, the Washington Office in Latin America (WOLA) said in a statement on May 3 that the Colombian Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) is carrying a "disproportionate" use of force against protesters, which is reinforced by "hostile statements by senior officials and influential politicians."
"Many of these public figures reacted to the protests by exacerbating the violence, stigmatizing protesters and serving a broader agenda against the Peace Accords, for example by attacking the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP)," WOLA warned.
As protests continue, the alarms increase about the declaration of a possible "state of internal commotion," a constitutional resource that would grant President Duque the authority to restrict the right of movement, limiting media operations and intercepting communications, among others.