Bogota’s homeless people are being fed poisoned food, the human rights office of Colombia’s capital told the city council on Tuesday.
The capital district’s human rights coordinator, Carmen Teresa Castañeda told the council that several human rights officials have received complaints about the allegedly intentional poisoning of street dwellers.
“We know … that through the indiscriminate provision of food to these people they are being given poison and harmful substances,” Castañeda was quoted as saying by newspaper El Tiempo.
The human rights official said her office is investigating who is distributing the poisoned food. She did not say how many people have been poisoned so far and whether people have died.
“I want to have the evidence that allow me to come out and strongly make these claims, but in the meantime I want to call for attention,” said Castañeda.
Bogota’s homeless problem has become a major pain in the neck for Mayor Enrique Peñalosa, which only seems to be getting worse.
The mayor tried the hard-line approach, evicting a sector in the city center called The Bronx that had become Colombia’s most infamous drug dealing area.
However, the operation that was supposed to be a PR success back-lashed.
Almost immediately after the mass eviction, inhabitants from areas around the Bronx began complaining that large groups of homeless people and drug addicts began appearing.
Then, officials from cities around Bogota rang the alarm that homeless people from Bogota suddenly began appearing in their cities. In some of these cases government officials said Bogota authorities were involved in the mass transport of “undesirables.”
Peñalosa is now facing criminal charges of forced displacement and other human rights violations filed by leftist opposition House Representative Alirio Uribe, also a human rights advocate.
Bogota, a city of seven million, has long dealt with a problem of homelessness. This problem has been fueled by Colombia’s ongoing armed conflict, which has displaced hundreds of thousands of homeless families to the capital.
The city also has a long and cruel history of “solving” homelessness, for example through “social cleansing,” a euphemism for assassinating homeless people.