Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) joined several other U.S. lawmakers in condemning the Colombian government’s crackdown on its citizens, as widespread protests against poverty and inequality in the country that have been gravely worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic continue into a second week.
In a declaration Released Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez expressed solidarity with Colombian protesters who she said “are protesting against the anti-worker reforms” that have been put in place by the country’s government led by President Ivan Duque.
In an Instagram story posted early Friday, the congresswoman also urged progressives in the United States to support the protesters and hold the Colombian government accountable for responding to the protests with violence.
Several other American politicians, including Rep. Jim mcgovern (D-Mass.) And Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) And New York State Senator, Jessica ramos—Which is Colombian-American — also demanded an end to police violence in Colombia.
McGovern specifically called for strong human rights protections and conditions to be placed on any US aid sent to the Colombian National Police (PNC) and also said that no US aid should be sent to riot police. Colombian (ESMAD) if it engaged in “gross violations of human rights”.
On the Republican side, the representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) expressed concern On the violence and “tragic deaths” in Colombia, however, he praised Duque for “his efforts to preserve the rule of law”, noting the Colombian government’s claims that the violence was being fueled by the left militias such as the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
“These citizens were protesting against the anti-worker reforms and for that they lost their lives. There must be accountability for the long line of human rights violations by the Colombian government, ”Ocasio-Cortez said in his statement.
Protests erupted in Colombia late last month, initially in opposition to a tax reform that the government claimed was essential to alleviate the country’s current economic crisis. The proposal would have lowered the tax bar affecting anyone earning a monthly income of $ 685 (2.6 million pesos) or more; removed several current exemptions and increased taxes imposed on businesses. While the tax proposal was withdrawn by Duque on Sunday, that was not enough to crack down on demonstrators who are now protesting against rising poverty and inequality in the country which has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Protesters called for improvements in Colombia’s retirement, health and education systems while protesting what they call excessive use of violence by security forces. Colombian authorities and security forces have been accused by the UN of responding brutally to protests by shooting at unarmed protesters and driving tanks through neighborhoods. According to the Colombian newspaper, El Espectador, at least 24 people have died during the protests so far. In addition, at least 87 people are missing.
Colombian police respond to protests with bullets, death toll rises (New York Times)
Protests in Colombia: what is behind the unrest? (BBC)
Duque’s repressive security policies have failed in Colombia (Washington Post)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pide rendición de cuentas por abusos durante el Paro Nacional (El Espectador)