Colombia Tensions Escalate as Protests Continue For The 8th Day

Published May 6th, 2021 - 06:57 GMT
Tension escalates in Colombian protests
A demostrators wears a Guy Fawkes mask during a protest against President Ivan Duque's government in Cali, Colombia on May 5, 2021. Thousands of people returned to the streets of Colombia on May 5 in rejection of the government of Ivan Duque, who has completed a week of pressure with demonstrations that turned violent in some cities and left some twenty people dead. Luis ROBAYO / AFP
Colombians continue to protests.

Tensions between the government and civil society continued to escalate as Colombia marked its eighth day of protests.  

Shortly after thousands of people gathered in the historic Plaza de Bolivar on Wednesday, security forces used tear gas to disperse a group of protesters who attempted to enter Colombia's Congress. 

The unrest has been sparked by tax reform proposed by President Ivan Duque, who withdrew the controversial bill after days of massive protests across the country. Demonstrations continued as unions have made more demands of the government, including eliminating the riot police. 

More than a week of violent protests have seen at least 24 people killed. Colombia's Ombudsman confirmed that 87 people were missing as of Wednesday. 

The UN, US State Department, European Union, and Humans Rights Watch have accused Colombia's security forces of using excessive force against protesters. 

Many roadblocks remain across the country, which has caused food, fuel, and medical supply shortages. 

Doctors appealed to the organizers of the national strike as hospitals announced they were running out of oxygen for COVID-19 patients. 

On the road between Bogota and Tunja, protesters prevented an ambulance from taking a pregnant woman to the hospital in the capital after she went into premature labor. The ambulance was not allowed to pass and the baby died.

On Tuesday night, crowds attacked 15 police stations in Bogota. Some people attempted to burn a station where members of the public forces remained. Nineteen police officers and 72 civilians were injured overnight.  

Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez said the city experienced a "tragic and painful" night on May 4. 

"The level of destruction, of violence, of attacks against citizens, against our public property, against our police, is truly unheard of," she said.

President Duque has said that guerrilla dissidents are behind the vandalism, looting, and attacks against police. 

The crisis comes as Colombia struggles with a third wave of the coronavirus. The country has recorded nearly 3 million cases and more than 76,000 deaths, according to a tally by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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