Colombia’s mayors dismiss Duque’s attempt to militarize cities

President Ivan Duque was humiliated on Saturday when Colombia’s mayors rejected his idea to militarize cities to quell anti-government protests.

In a television address, Duque seemed determines to fulfil his “obligation as President of the Republic” and use the army to “first and foremost guarantee the security of citizens above all else.”

(Image: President’s Office)

The militarization attempt

The far-right president vowed “to guarantee the right to protest” as part of an ongoing national strike that kicked off on Wednesday to force the withdrawal of a widely rejected tax reform.

However, I would also like to issue a clear warning to those who by means of violence, vandalism and terrorism, seek to intimidate society and believe that through this mechanism they can subdue the institutions. We will not allow people taking the law in their own hands, the destruction of public and private property or the message of hatred to have a place in our country.

President Ivan Duque

Ironically, Duque’s rejection of hate speech came after Twitter censored his political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe for “glorifying violence” and the opposition announced criminal charges against the former Medellin Cartel associate for allegedly inciting violence.

The president’s rejection of violence and vandalism followed a terror campaign overseen by Defense Minister Diego Molano that killed at least 10 people in Cali.

Protests in Colombia turn deadly: police massacres ‘at least 8’ in Cali

Molano’s disaster did not break the resilience of Colombia’s third largest city, who continued protesting to demand the withdrawal of the tac reform on Saturday.

Uribe’s ongoing stigmatization of opposition to the puppet president fueled protests in other cities.

(Image: Johan Obando)

Duque’s hurt feelings

The far-right president apparently confused opposition to his increasingly authoritarian government with “violence, vandalism and terrorism” he could solve by militarizing the cities.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the military assistance model will remain in force in urban centers where there is a high risk to the integrity of citizens and where the full capacity of the State is required to protect the population.

President Ivan Duque

Unfortunately for Duque, the military’s duty is to protect the country against potential national security threats and can only assist local police departments if mayors request help to maintain public order.

People opposing the president’s policies is the problem of Duque and Duque alone.

Saturday’s protest in Bogota (Image: Jaime Andres Wilches)

Mayors say ‘no thanks’

The progressive mayors of Colombia’s largest cities made it clear they couldn’t care less about the president’s ego.

The mayor of the capital Bogota, Claudia Lopez, dismissed the president almost immediately, claiming “we don’t need nor have we requested any militarization” to deal with the anti-government protests.

Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero stressed that he also “will not request additional military assistance with the current protests” in Colombia’s second largest city.

Caí Mayor Jorge Ivan Ospina rubbed it in particularly harsh and told Duque “not to cause more deaths here” as his city recovers from Molano’s bloodbath.

Mr. President, the tax reform is dead. Don’t cause more deaths here. Please, in the name of the people of Cali, withdraw it.

Cali Mayor Jorge Ivan Ospina

The mayors made it clear that not just Duque’s tax reform is dead, but that also the authoritarian ambitions of Colombia’s president may be the product of self-delusions of grandeur.

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