Protests put Colombia’s far-right government on brink of collapse

Graffiti in Bogota saying "Duque (son of a bitch) Resign." (Image: Joshua Collins)

The government of Colombia’s far-right President Ivan Duque is on the brink of collapse after using terrorism to quell anti-government protests backfired.

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets on Wednesday as part of a national strike that a week ago drew only tens of thousands of people.

The protests, and attempts to silence independent media and use terrorism to quell the protests have made the future of  the government of far-right Duque uncertain.

Holy moly folks, we have got ourselves a march! I’m at Parque Nacional- the crowds are larger than when the strike started on Wednesday, and this is just one of a dozen meeting points. Turns out people don’t like being shot.

US journalist Joshua Collins

No protest in the the history of Colombia ever posed a threat to a sitting government and also the current national strike never sought more than a change in policy.

The mindboggling misrule of Duque and Defense Minister Diego Molano, who ordered the use of terrorism to put an end to the protests have turned the situation around and have increased called to overthrow the government.

Also on Wednesday, controversial riot police unit ESMAD violently ended mass protests in Bogota after a small group of vandals sabotaged a day of peaceful and massive protests.

In the southwestern city of Buga, locals filmed US-funded Blackhawk helicopters opening fire on civilians.

Marches in other cities were peaceful, contrary to claims by Duque’s informal boss, far-right former President Alvaro Uribe, who has desperately been trying to criminalize the protests for a week.

Violence by the security forces, not the protesters, has all but delegitimized the government, which was already lacking authority due to evidence of ties with drug trafficking organizations.

The United Nations confirmed that police indiscriminately opened fire on civilians in Colombia’s third largest city, Cali, between Wednesday and Sunday.

According to the country’s human rights chief, at least 19 people were murdered in Cali between Wednesday in Friday. The city’s mayor has been leading protests since Monday after one of his cousins was murdered.

Indigenous authorities from the nearby Cauca province took to Cali to provide protection against the police on Wednesday.

Also the authorities in Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city, rallied behind the anti-government protests on Wednesday.

While many of the organized protests have been peaceful, authorities and social leaders have had increasing problems to maintain the peace as peaceful demonstrations during the day have often been followed by violence at night.

Unconfirmed videos uploaded by citizens indicate that both rioters and police are behind this violence that left at least 15 police stations destroyed in Bogota on Tuesday.

Duque announced a special “anti-vandalism” phoneline, but has yet to acknowledge the participation of police and the military in atrocities that have depleted the government’s legitimacy.

The president was already suffering low approval rating, partly because of ties between the mafia and Duque, his far-right Democratic Center party and Uribe.

In an apparent attempt to prevent Duque collapsing his own government, the president called on talks with the protest organizers.

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