Duque sends troops to Cali

Protest in Cali, Colombia (May 28)

The city of Cali has become the epicenter of protest

Colombian President Ivan Duque says he has sent troops to restore order in the city of Cali after weeks of deadly anti-government protests.

At least five people died in Cali on Friday night. This is the latest victim of a month-long protest that claimed the lives of dozens of people.

The protest began in April over the proposed tax increase.

The tax system has been withdrawn, but protests now cover police violence, poverty and the Colombian health crisis.

Two-week negotiations between the government and the opposition are at a standstill.

Cali, the epicenter of the opposition movement, is approaching a curfew until Saturday morning.

At a press conference in Cali, Mr. Duque said he was sending “maximum deployment of military aid” to police.

“This deployment will nearly triple capacity across the state within 24 hours, ensuring support at key points of vandalism, violence and low-intensity urban terrorism,” he said.

One of the people killed on Friday was an off-duty official at the Attorney General’s office. The man fired at protesters before he was killed, Attorney General Francisco Barbosa said in a statement.

On Saturday, security officials in Cali said at least five people died of anxiety on Friday. He said five more were killed in the city, but it was unclear whether these deaths were directly related to the protest.

Explosive cocktail

Analysis by Daniel Pardo Vegalara, BBC Mundo

Cali is located in a strategic location in southwestern Colombia. It connects the city center with the Pacific Ocean and Buenaventura, the country’s largest port.

During the pandemic, the number of poor people in Cali has tripled compared to other countries.

Many of its economies are informal and have a diverse population. There are also many murders. The cocktail in a highly unequal and isolated city was the fuel for protest.

However, there has since been a strong reaction from authorities who have treated many protesters as criminals and set up obstacles that have a serious impact on the region’s economic activity.

The anger of both sides is enormous. And because the dialogue attempt failed, it doesn’t seem to settle down immediately.

How did the protest begin?

The demonstration began on April 28 and initially opposed the proposed tax reforms that would lower the standard on which salaries would be taxed.

The government argued that reform was the key to alleviating economic hardship, but many middle-class Colombians feared that they could end up in poverty.

After four days of protests nationwide, President Duque said he would withdraw the bill.

However, human rights groups have accused police of using tear gas and, in some cases, live ammunition to disperse protests.

Since then, dozens of people have died.

Colombians have marked a month since the protest began on a national march on Friday.

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