Colombia intensifies crackdown of dissent ahead of protests

President Ivan Duque (Screenshot: Twitter)

Colombia’s increasingly tyrannical government stepped up the intimidation of opponents on baseless claims that guerrillas would seek violence during anti-government protests on Tuesday.

The conspiracy theories coincided with the arrest of alleged protesters and the harassment of social organizations that were trying to organize a meeting in Cali over the weekend.

Defense Minister Diego Molano said on Sunday security forces were on heightened alert in Bogota and 10 of Colombia’s 32 provincial capitals.

The ghost guerrillas

According to Molano, guerrilla group ELN, dissidents of now-defunct guerrilla group FARC and paramilitary group AGC all would seek to finance vandalism on Tuesday.

The defense minister made similar claims to justify the brutal crackdown of anti-government protests that kicked off on April 28 and killed dozens of protesters.

National Police chief General Jorge Luis Vargas claimed on Saturday that evidence obtained in a June 21 military operation confirmed that the ELN was promoting vandalism.

Among the found documents that are being analyzed for use in court were instructions from the ELN’s central command to instruct in the acts of vandalism that are taking place in some Colombian cities.

National  Police chief General Jorge Luis Vargas

The military additionally claimed that an alleged ELN ringleader called “JJ” would be behind violence against authorities in Cali in documents leaked to government-loyal newspaper El Tiempo.

The police department in Colombia’s third largest city has been under fire for the use of deadly force against peaceful protesters.

Military documents leaked to another government-loyal publication, Semana, claimed that the ELN’s central command was supporting so-called ” frontline” protesters that — armed with helmets and homemade shield — have been protecting other protesters against police brutality.

The weekly additionally claimed that social organizations that organized a Popular National Assembly over the weekend would also be infiltrated by the week.

The prosecution arrested at least 12 alleged members of these frontline groups on Friday, claiming that a drill, nails, helmets and a shield that said “They’re Killing Us” was evidence of arms trafficking.

The Popular National Assembly organizers said that people seeking to attend the meeting were harassed by security forces throughout Colombia.

The authorities’ lack of evidence to sustain their conspiracy theories is dwarfed by the growing pile of evidence of crimes against humanity committed to quell anti-government protests.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights announced a special commission to monitor far-right President Ivan Duque’s compliance with recommendations to end the security forces´ widespread human rights violations.

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