Colombian troops have already begun their deployment in the south-south City of Cali in Colombia after the President Ivan Duque promised to restore order from the deadly violence that erupted amid numerous anti-government demonstrations.
The streets of Cali, the third largest town in the country with 2.2 million inhabitants, were calm on Saturday, hours after clashes between protesters, police and armed civilians killed several people.
Mayor Jorge Ivan Ospina said in a video message that at least 13 people had died on Friday, though he specified it was unclear whether all the deaths were “fully linked and linked to the protests” .
“The significant day means multiple causes of death,” Ospina said, adding at least 34 people were also reported injured.
Confirmation of the cause of death is expected to be announced on Sunday, a representative of the attorney’s office said.
In one case on Friday, a representative from the Cali prosecutor’s office said an unlicensed investigator shot at a mob, killing a civilian, before being arrested by protesters.
Video footage showed a man lying in a pool of blood and another nearby carrying a gun; that person was attacked by a group of people.
“In the south of the town, we have a real scene of confrontation and almost an urban war where many people have not only lost their lives, but we have also many injured,” Cali’s security secretary said. Carlos Rojas spoke on Caracol radio earlier on Saturday.
Cali emerged Earlier this month as the center of protest movement across the country, with some demonstrators erecting blockades blocking the entry of fuel and other products.
Talks between the government and protest leaders, including union leaders forming a national strike committee, have stalled.
Violence began during the protests and dozens of people have been killed so far, according to local human rights groups, accusing Colombian police of using excessive force.
Last Friday, Duque Office has partnered he sent the military to the province of Valle del Cauca and to Cali, its capital, after a rise in deadly violence.
“Starting tonight will begin the largest deployment of military aid to the national police in Cali and Valle province,” Duque said in a televised message.
He commanded 7,000 troops to help clean and patrol the blocked roads in 10 departments, while a total of 1,141 soldiers were deployed in Cali.
Jose Miguel Vivanco, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) American division, said Saturday that Duque’s steps to restore order in the province “would not include any detailed reference to prioritizing dialogue, avoidance with excessive force and respect for human rights ”.
“Severe failure can have dire consequences,” he said tweet.
A day earlier, the United Nations human rights office in Colombia stated concern about deaths, urging “calm and non-violence”.
Elizabeth Dickinson, Colombia’s senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, also tweeted that “the risk of violent growth in #Cali is even higher”.
“There is no armed or military solution to this crisis. Although agendas on all sides are more tempted to find one, ”he wrote on Friday, adding that Colombia“ is on the brink of new armed conflict ”.
Meanwhile, protesters in Colombia have vowed to continue their demonstrations.
“As long as the government doesn’t listen to us, we have to stay on the streets,” 23-year-old Alejandro Franco protested to the Reuters news agency from the capital Bogota.
Franco said he was marching for better education and health, and so on. “If people don’t have peace neither does the government,” he added.
Let me be clear: the risk of violent escalation #Cali too tall
There is no armed or military solution to this crisis. But agendas on all sides are more tempted to find one
Without alarm, we are approaching a new armed conflict
– Elizabeth Dickinson (@dickinsonbeth) May 28, 2021
Sandra Borda, an analyst and expert on protests, told the Associated Press news agency that there is a crisis of representation in both the government, with limited space for maneuvering, and the National Strike Committee, which does not represent all sectors showing.
“We are facing a scenario that I don’t think will be resolved any time soon, because the only thing the government can control at any level of effectiveness is the state forces and so it continues to try to resolve the situation with a heavy hand, ”he said.
“If state forces are too angry, a lot of anger and a lot of fuel is added to the fires of demonstrations.”
Luis Felipe Vega, a political scientist at Javeriana University, also likened military deployment to “putting out fires with gasoline”.