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Several U.S. lawmakers have expressed their rejection of the police violence that has occurred during the protests in Colombia and are looking for Joe Biden to send a strong message to the government of Iván Duque.
The senators and members of Congress who requested to cut the direct financial aid received by the Colombian National Police are not taking their fingers off the ball. Inside Congress, some U.S. politicians are doing their best to make Joe Biden's Administration "send a strong signal to the Colombian Government."
Congressman Jim McGovern, one of those who supported the request, spoke to Anadolu Agency and assured that in addition to suggesting and supporting the financial cut to the direct aid received by the Colombian Police, he is focused on avoiding that U.S. taxpayers' money is used to "harm Colombians" who exercise their right to protest.
"We have encouraged the Biden Administration to send a strong signal to the Colombian government that we are very concerned about what is happening. I suggested that we suspend security assistance to Colombia, and now I want to make sure that none of our money goes to the National Police because it has been used in the way that we have seen in the videos when the police are provoking innocent and peaceful protesters," said McGovern.
The Biden Administration's response to Colombia's political and social crisis was criticized among members of Congress in the United States. McGovern believes that it was not the right one, and that is why the pressure is now focused on cutting financial support to the Colombian Police.
The United States, under the Biden Administration, has already cut in the last six months the financial aid budget for the police and other institutions of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, due to accusations of human rights violations and corruption against public officials, police, and deputies of these countries.
Violence broke out in Colombia more than two months ago, after President Iván Duque announced a tax reform that sparked national discontent, in the midst of the economic crisis that many Colombians are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the protests, which began on April 28th as part of the so-called national strike, dozens of people have died, and others have been injured due to the violent repression with which the police tried to stop the demonstrators. In addition, at least two policemen died, and other members of the security forces were also injured in clashes during the protests.
McGovern is the chairman of the Rules Committee of the House of Representatives of the Congress, which greatly influences U.S. politics, as it decides whether a bill should pass from that body to the Senate. The budget cuts to financial aid to Central American countries passed first through the hands of that group.
The images in the United States have been disturbing for the congressmen, who have publicly expressed their rejection of the violence in Colombian territory.
Los Uribistas perdieron su viaje a Washington. Jim McGovern no les creyó.
Los videos de abusos del ESMAD, asesinatos, mutilaciones y civiles disparando a manifestantes al lado de la Policía de Colombia, son testimonio irrefutable de un Estado paramilitar y terrorista. https://t.co/BkDkfnB1d9
"The Uribistas lost their trip to Washington. Jim McGovern didn't believe them. The videos of ESMAD abuses, murders, mutilations, and civilians shooting protesters alongside the Colombian Police are irrefutable testimony of a paramilitary and terrorist state."
According to McGovern, Colombians are tired of the social and political situation, and protests are a right of all citizens of any country in the world. That is why he is willing to continue to press for the police trying to repress the protesters not to receive U.S. money.
"It's really horrible what's going on; we have to keep an eye on commercial sales of equipment to the ESMAD in Colombia to make sure they are not buying bullets or any kind of riot gear that can be used or especially that has been used against protesters. People are protesting because they are tired of the Government," assured the congressman.
And he continued: "The Government is not paying attention to the fact that poverty is growing, unemployment is growing, the COVID-19 pandemic has been mishandled, young people do not see a future. That is why Colombians are taking to the streets; they are saying enough is enough. In democratic countries, people have the right to protest".
Given the accusations of some sectors and Republican members of Congress who claim that the left and other Venezuelan sectors are behind the protests in Colombia, McGovern points out that these are excuses for not assuming the responsibility that the Duque government has and to dismiss the pressure of Colombians.
"When the Colombian government responds that the protests are just a bunch of leftists or that these are protesters inspired by events in other countries, or that Venezuelans are responsible... Please! This is happening all over the country. There is great dissatisfaction, and the Colombian government has to resolve it to respond to the citizens, but what it should not do is to sanction with this type of violent reaction that we see from the Colombian police," he said.
McGovern also points out that the climate of violence and the lack of attention or response to the problems of poverty and unemployment without violence by the government not only damages the image that Colombia has built internationally and that it has struggled to build but also puts at risk the climate for foreign investment in the country.
"We see people protesting peacefully, and we see the Police responding violently. That is unacceptable; it is a crime against human rights. Do you think investors would like to invest in a country where poverty is growing and going in the wrong direction? Colombia is an incredible country, with infinite possibilities, with potential, but do you think international or U.S. companies would want to invest in a country where the police are brutalizing peaceful protesters?" the congressman said.
McGovern had a trip to Colombia scheduled in two weeks to meet with representatives of some sectors. However, he decided to postpone it due to the increase in COVID-19 cases affecting the country.