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Report of the nights: Repression in Bogotá

Bogotá. Colombia. May 15. 2021. As usual, a new night of repression was experienced in the country’s capital, Bogotá, on May 12. In an almost synchronous operation, the different demonstration points were violently attacked by security forces.

Originally published by Colombia Informa. Translated by Riot Turtle.

The protest, which had been in the National Park since 8:00 a.m., moved to the Plaza Bolivar and kept it permanently full until 6:30 p.m. At that time, the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (Esmad) arrived and attacked the demonstrators. After that, the protest in the north of the city (to be precise in Portal de Suba), was dispersed by the police. The same thing happened in the Portal 80 and Monumento a los Héroes districts. In the latter place, art had been the main attraction on that day.

Translation of the tweet above: Artistic intervention at the Monumento de los Héroes, in the city of Bogotá, today Colombia tells the world that Iván Duque is the “Public Enemy”.

In the south of the city the situation was no different. At Usme, young people gathered at Puente de la Dignidad – as it was renamed in the Santa Librada district – in a demonstration that at around 8 p.m. was attacked by the police. The people who were there were chased through the streets of the surrounding neighborhoods, where citizens reported that gunshots were heard. Finally, in the area of Portal Américas, the police cracked down protests at around 8:00 pm.

El Portal Américas

This has been one of the points with continuous gatherings during these 18 days of National Strike. Young people have been the protagonists, demonstrating in a peaceful and creative way. They even created the Humanitarian Space Al Calor de la Olla, which aims to prevent the Portal from being used as a center of torture and violence.

Around 8:30 p.m. that night, the demonstrators were dispersed and strongly repressed by cops. Human rights violations, several injuries and illegal police actions were the result. In the middle of the coverage at the site (which was recorded on video), a young man was brutally beaten by several police officers outside a store. The uniformed officers, stopped the aggression when they noticed the presence of journalists, leaving the beaten young man on a platform.

Video: Protesters are repressed by ESMAD in the Chicala neighborhood in the south of the capital.

Chasing was continuous in the area. Between the blocks of the Chicalá and Villa Anita neighborhoods, the demonstrators were cornered by groups of motorized vehicles seeking to capture, frighten or beat up whoever was in the area. In the live video on the social network Instagram, there was also evidence of how despite this being a residential area, the Esmad fired tear gas and stun grenades, causing material damage to the infrastructure and the health of the local residents.

Towards the end of the day, the shots fired by a police vehicle at a demonstrator were recorded. The policeman turned back and tried again to shoot at a group of women who were there, but when he saw that there were journalists on the scene, he refrained from attacking them. We recall that very close to this very same spot, on the night of May 10, our correspondent was injured by a direct shot fired from an armored police vehicle.

Women human rights defenders and first aid personnel were attacked in the same way. During a verification procedure of a detainee, they were attacked with truncheons, stun bombs and tear gas, leaving one defender injured on several parts of her body.

When we approached this spot, several inhabitants of the neighborhood denounced that during those days there were police motorcycles without license plates and uniformed officers with their jackets turned inside out in the area. According to them, the police violated human rights, institutional and media personnel who were in the area verified the arrest of a young man.

At a press conference on May 13, several human rights organizations, councilmen and councilwomen condemned the silence of the District Administration, headed by Claudia Lopez, in the face of the multiple cases of police violence that have occurred in the context of the National Strike.

According to reports from the Defend Freedom Campaign, in Bogotá alone two people have been killed allegedly by the police (Dylan Barbosa was run over by an Esmad tank and Daniel Zapata was injured in his skull by tear gas), eight documented cases of torture, helicopter gunship landings inside the Transmilenio Portal and the Claretian School in Bosa, and 28 wounded between April 28 and May 11.

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