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Colombian government expels German tourist participating in deadly protests, bans entry for 10 years

The Colombian migration authority announced last week that it had deported German citizen Rebecca Linda Marlene Sprößer (otherwise written Sproesser). Sprößer, according to the Colombian government, entered the country in March on a 90-day tourist visa, which would have expired before July.

According to the 34-year-old flight attendant, in an interview with Colombian daily El Tiempo, she said she came to Cali for a two-week vacation to learn salsa, but when protests and riots in Nationally erupted across the country at the end of In April, Sprößer decided to join the group of protesters known as “Primera Linea” or Front Lines.

Photo above: Sprößer (3rd from right) with “Primera Linea” protesters in Cali, Colombia (photo: Facebook)

According to her conversation with El Tiempo, Sprößer, whose visa is said to have expired after 90 days, said she would not be returning to Germany, but planned to teach protesters about politics and economics. “I never felt very German, I have always loved Latin America,” she told the newspaper.

Things are getting deadly

On the night of July 22sd, Sprößer was with his friend and colleague protester Joan Sebastian Bonilla Bermudez, when a gunman approached and shot Bonilla 13 times. Based on her Facebook post, Sprößer believes she was the target of the attack. However, Colombian police disagree and Bonilla’s family said in an interview that suspicious men had recently been looking for him.

Sprößer was summoned to the Colombian prosecutor’s office in Cali, where she gave her version of the shooting, but because of an expired visa and what immigration officials called “activities incompatible with the shooting. a tourist visa ”: protest and political organization as a foreigner, Migration Colombia detained her and sent her to Bogotá, then by commercial plane to Germany. Sprößer is banned from entering Colombia for 10 years, then, if she wishes to return, she must apply for a visa.

Sprößer’s expulsion was predictable, politically divisive. José Miguel VIvanco of the nonprofit Human Rights Watch protested the deportation, tweeting “The legislation that Migration Colombia has enforced against Rebecca Linda Marlene Sproesser is at odds with international standards because it allows for the deportation of a foreigner who is legally in the country without guaranteeing the right to have his case examined by a competent authority.

Left-wing senator and presidential candidate Gustavo Petro tweeted that “The government forcibly removed the only witness to the assassination of young Johan Sebastian Bonilla. It is an act of complicity with the assassins. In my government, Rebecca will return to Colombia and all journalists who wish to enter.

Sprößer had called herself a journalist, even though she actively participated and supported the protesters, rather than covering the protests.

Sprößer had called herself a journalist, even though she actively participated and supported the protesters, rather than covering the protests. Her resume, which can be downloaded from LinkedIn as soon as it is published, lists her as a flight attendant since 2009 and recently graduated from college, but does not list any media affiliations or blogs. It lists a compulsory 6-month university internship in 2016-2017 with Romero & Braas, a “German-Mexican production company making films, covering current affairs, managing international productions and developing television formats” in Mexico City.

“When I arrived in Cali I fell totally in love with the people, the way of life, and decided that I wanted to live here a little longer. I started working as a volunteer and community manager at a very well-known dance school called Arrebato Caleño, but when the national strike started and the curfews intensified, they could no longer teach the classes that were taking place during that time. night and they collapsed. It was a strong motivation to join the people who started to protest. Later, I thought that since I had worked in journalism in Mexico, I could also document here what was happening with my eyes. Then I started recording testimonies and abuses from the police and sending them to my contacts with whom I had the press, ”Sprößer told the Colombian daily“ El Espectador ”.

Below: Sprößer poses in Cali with a flag of the former M-19 guerrilla group that took over the Dominican embassy and Colombian courthouse in the 1980s. Senator Gustavo Petro is a former member of the M-group. 19.

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