Demonstrators participating in the national strike in Colombia against the tax reform promoted by President Ivan Duque's government denounced the repression of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (Esmad) in several cities such as Cali, Medellin, and Bogota (capital).
"The Esmad arrived to disperse everyone. The people were calm, without doing any damage and they (Esmad) arrived to set everything on fire", said one of the demonstrators to a local media outlet in Medellín, where the demonstrations were carried out peacefully until midday this day.
Colombia's National Strike Against Tax Reform Moves Forward
The councilwoman of that city, Dora Saldarriaga, denounced in social networks the aggressions by security forces. "The people were peaceful, and the Esmad arrived to intimidate and dissolve the march (...) we ask the mayor to call the police to give the order not to attack the population", she said on Twitter.
The massive group of people that mobilized in Bogota (capital) was also attacked by Esmad agents, at midday, after having marched through several streets of the city until reaching the historic Plaza de Bolivar, where violent actions began to put an end to the protest.
Meanwhile, in the city of Cali, disturbances and violent actions against the population were also reported. The media have reported several injured, and local authorities have counted one dead. Likewise, a curfew has been decreed in the city above.
The mayor of Cali, Jorge Iván Ospina, decreed a curfew as of 3:00 p.m. (local time) in the afternoon. However, the measure went into effect from 13H00 (local time), with a margin for the demonstrators to reach their homes.
For his part, the Colombian Minister of Defense, Diego Molano, stated before the massive mobilizations that 554 members of the Police, 300 Esmad agents, and 450 Army soldiers had been deployed to try to control the situation of disturbances in the city.
"As a result of the acts of vandalism in Cali, we have decided to reinforce the force in that city with 554 men from the Colombian Police, 300 from Esmad and 450 soldiers from the Army, to guarantee the security of citizens, public entities, and commerce", assured Molano.
More than 20 concentration points have been reported throughout the country during the national strike in Colombia. In other cities such as Barranquilla, workers' unions and teachers' groups led the demonstrations.
In Bucaramanga, the mobilizations began at the Puerta del Sol, while in Cartagena, the labor unions called for two rallies. In Pereira, a municipality of the capital Bogotá, the meeting point was at Plaza Bolívar, where Police confronted the demonstrators.
The demonstrators, in protest, have blocked highways and are reluctant to leave. They have also stated that they will remain mobilized until the tax reform, which on Tuesday was submitted to two Senate committees for approval, is repealed.
In the mobilizations, there are members of the different social groups of Colombia: trade unionists, teachers, peasants, indigenous people, and widely diverse groups, who demand that the Government of Iván Duque retreat from its reactionary economic and social policies during the pandemic.