The uprising in Colombia has gained global attention following the deaths of between 19 and an estimated 37 demonstrators as a result of police violence. This comes after protests that began on April 28 in response to a tax proposal that would increase the price of basic foods and services and the tax base would widen to include more middle-class workers. Though the government claimed it was meant to ease the economic effects of the pandemic, many protested claiming it hurt those who’ve already been struggling.
Colombia’s biggest unions went on strike and thousands across the country joined to voice their discontent with economic and social inequalities as well as police brutality. About 16.8 percent of Colombians have also been unemployed as of March and there have been 1,708 cases of police violence since the protests started on April 28 through May 5, according to local human rights organization Temblores
Among the dead was Marcelo Agredo, 17, a ninth grader who went out to march with his brother and video footage showed him kicking the police officer on a motorbike, the New York Times reported. The officer shot him as he tried to run away. He died soon after, according to his father, Armando Agredo, and it was confirmed by the country’s ombudsman, a government agency that investigates human rights violations.
“You don’t take a person’s life for a kick,” said Agredo, 62, a retired taxi driver. “We want justice.”
President Iván Duque announced on Sunday that he would withdraw the proposal and the government would work with union leaders for a new plan. However the protests continue as the fight has evolved to an outcry against the economic inequality and poverty that came as a result of the pandemic. Colombia’s economy decreased by 7 percent last year, while poverty rose from about 36 percent to nearly 43 percent, according to a report issued by the government. With the growing number of deaths at the protests and the continued violence, the United Nations is calling for peace and for law enforcement to exercise caution when using firearms.
“We remind the state authorities of their responsibility to protect human rights, including the right to life and security of person, and to facilitate the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly,” spokeswoman Maria Hurtado said. “Law enforcement officers should abide by the principles of legality, precaution, necessity and proportionality when policing demonstrations. Firearms can only be used as a measure of last resort against an imminent threat to life or of serious injury.”
Below are some ways you can help the cause.
Follow and Share Hashtags Raising Awareness
People have taken to social media to raise awareness of what’s happening with the use of the hashtag #SOSColombia, #FuerzaColombia, and #NoALaReformaTributaria.
Get the Facts from People Directly Informed About What’s Happening
Prominent Colombian public figures, organizations and reporters have also taken to Instagram to discuss what’s happening including Priscila Garcia Jacquier, Red Condor Collective, La Oreja Roja, Primera Linea Respaldo, Alianza Resistencia Colombia, Confradia Para el Cambio, and Temblores ONG.
Temblores ONG is a human rights organization that’s currently raising $13K to help their cause. You can also donate to citizens on the ground gathering supplies and goods for the demonstrators. Other accounts accepting donations on Instagram are @tomiescom, @sharontrens, @camilavillegasaguilar, and @nataliarg.84.