The mayors of Bogota and Medellin distanced themselves from Colombia’s increasingly authoritarian President Ivan Duque on Thursday after a police terror campaign in the capital Bogota left seven people dead.
In response to protests against widespread police brutality, Bogota police officers embarked on a terror campaign, murdering at least seven people and clashing with colleagues who were trying to protect civilians.
The extreme violence cornered President Ivan Duque and his controversial defense minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, who initially claimed that politicians “use the destruction caused by violent criminals to make opposition by slandering the government,” but found himself isolated.
Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez begged “the National Police to humbly acknowledge the gravity of what happened, to ask forgiveness to the citizens and the victims.”
Fifty-eight firearm injuries are not isolated cases. Six deaths are not isolated cases. 141 reports of police abuse during the course of the year in Bogota are not isolated cases.
Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez
Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero, whose city saw smaller and peaceful protests against police brutality, proposed a “Roundtable for the Right to Protest,” which was almost immediately supported by the United Nations’ human rights office in Colombia.
President Ivan Duque expressed his support for the security forces and urged that “when these events occur, they must be individualized, not stigmatized.”
We are saddened by what happened yesterday and the lives that were lost, and for that reason, as a country, we must reject any expression of violence.
President Ivan Duque
While the president was trying to promote calm, his far-right Democratic Center party accused political opponents were inciting the violence with the support of government-friendly radio station RCN.
Extremist senators Paloma Valencia and Carlos Felipe Mejia blamed opposition Senator Gustavo Petro for the unrest while Senator Maria Fernanda Cabal claimed the protests were orchestrated by former President Juan Manuel Santos.
Petro, who lost the 2018 elections against the president, called for renewed protests and asked the government to “stop using violence and guarantee tranquility to the demonstrators so that the mobilizations are massive.”