Bogota refugee crisis spurs violent protest in Colombia’s capital

Indigenous protests in Colombia’s capital turned violent on Wednesday amid allegations that 21 refugees have died in Bogota over the past year.

According to the Bogota Police Department, 14 policemen, eight city officials and five civilians were injured in clashes between indigenous protesters and police.

How many indigenous protesters were injured is unknown as the police doesn’t consider native Colombians as civilized.

The violence broke out during a protest about indigenous refugees’ inhumane living conditions in Bogota, which allegedly cost 21 lives over the past year.

Did you see what is happening in Bogota with those criminal indians? Keep giving them money and supporting the laziness of these people who demand rights and break the law at will. They want to take over the country with their bullshit ancestral debt story.

Caro Jimenez

What led to the violence?

Wednesday’s violent outburst is the latest episode in a two-year drama that began with a surge in armed conflict in the Choco and Risaralda provinces that forced some 2,000 members of indigenous communities to flee in Bogota.

Refugees set up a tent village in Bogota’s National Park in October 2021 after Bogota authorities denied the refugees shelter.

Local and national authorities didn’t take action until May amid growing unrest among the indigenous refugees and Bogota residents about the situation in the National Park.

The security forces beefed up security in some of the indigenous reserves, which allowed 182 of the refugees of the Embera nation to go home.

Bogota authorities additionally agreed to provide shelter to those who were stuck in the capital.

According to indigenous representatives, 900 refugees were moved to La Rioja, a homeless shelter in downtown Bogota.

According to Bogota’s municipal website, La Rioja only has the capacity to provide shelter for no more than 260 people and no running water, however.

Consequently, multiple people were moved to this shelter have died since May, an indigenous protester told magazine Cambio.

To make things worse, Bogota’s public utilities firm recently cut off electricity in La Rioja, according to Interior Minister Alfonso Prada.

Notwithstanding, Mayor Claudia Lopez insisted that “Bogota has shown solidarity with the Emberas like nobody.”

“Bogota is the only city that has given refuge and humanitarian aid to the Embera for more than two years,” said Lopez, ignoring the fact that the refugees were homeless until May.

Racism a problem?

Bogota’s police department arrested two people and released the images of 18 alleged protesters who were the “protagonists of the riots in Bogota,” weekly Semana reported on Thursday.

Television network Caracol stressed that “brave civilians defended police officers who were attacked by indigenous,” including “one mother [who] didn’t care that she carried her child on her back.”

“Social media filled up with videos of the disturbances that showed the violence the police suffered on behalf of the indigenous,” reported television network RCN.

Caracol mentioned that there also were “questions” about the police, but failed to specify which.

None of the aforementioned media mentioned the humanitarian crisis in the refugee shelter that allegedly killed 21 indigenous refugees and triggered the protest.

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