Colombia’s National Strike that took place yesterday, November 21 was overwhelmingly peaceful—depending upon where one was. Medellín and Cartagena saw almost completely peaceful protests, while Cali saw incidents of violence, and predictably, Bogotá saw massive acts of vandalism against its Transmilenio and SITP bus systems. The Pacific coastal port of Buenaventura suffered attempted looting that left fatalities.
It is clear to us that residual violence must at minimum, partially be blamed on Colombia’s National Police, which has displayed a lack of leadership, and in multitudinous cases, thuggish behavior.
The levels in both quantity of incidents and in the brutality of police violence however, were shocking, and in many cases against passive protesters or bystanders. Finance Colombia generally does not editorialize, but what Colombians have witnessed yesterday and today, as violent clashes have escalated in Bogotá is appalling and the victims as well as the broader public deserve justice.
In some places there was indeed violence, vandalism and looting that warranted an aggressive police response. However it is clear that many rouge officers, whether on their own or under violent and unprofessional leadership, literally have blood on their hands and should be held to account.
Just a few cases:
Here police can be seen beating and dragging a protester, then throwing objects at the girl recording them from a distance:
— no mushrooms (@nosupermario) November 22, 2019
Here a police officer kicks a girl in the face, knocking her to the ground. According to reporting by El Tiempo, they had attacked her friend and were beating him.
Abuso de poder @PoliciaColombia por parte del #ESMAD se ve claramente que la mujer estaba desarmada. Solo quería defender a su compañero. @GustavoBolivar@MafeCarrascal@ClaudiaLopez@MeDicenWally@DanielSamperO#ParoNacional21N#EstudiantesALaCalle21N#AsiVaElParopic.twitter.com/f3bspsZ7WF
— Doña Gina ® (@Gina_Vegana) November 21, 2019
Why did you hit her? Why did you hit her? Assassins! Enraged crowds scream at police as a girl can be seen unconscious, bleeding on the street at the hands of ESMAD today in Bogotá, as unrest continues the day after the national strike.
Angry protesters in #Bogota yell at #Esmad/@PoliciaBogota after cracking an identified woman over the head. [GRAPHIC VIDEO]#ElParoSigue#22Nov#LoQueDejaElParo#ElParoContinua#ElParoNoEsDePetro#ParoNacional#ElParoSeMantiene#esmadasesinopic.twitter.com/IgwbbtyaNR
— MiKo (@Mi_Kolombia) November 22, 2019
As seen in the headline image, in Bogotá a police officer shoots a fleeing individual in the back at point-blank range:
PORTAL AMÉRICAS A ESTA HORA pic.twitter.com/64CV0f03o8
— Nicolas Quintero ⚽ (@nicolasqr_mfc) November 22, 2019
Marchers chanting “Sin Violencia” or “without violence” attacked by ESMAD, Colombia’s extremely unpopular anti-riot police:
@hrw@UNHumanRights this was what happend yesterday in Bogota (Colombia) when thousands of students were protesting peacefully and @PoliciaBogota attacked us while we were screaming #NoViolence#SinViolencia, violating our constitutional right to protest. #ParoNacional21Npic.twitter.com/GG1C30nwsq
— Felipe Solano (@DanielFsolano) November 22, 2019
Vandals loot a Surtimax grocery store in the “Patio Bonito” neighborhood, a low income area of Bogota’s sector known as Kennedy:
— EL TIEMPO (@ELTIEMPO) November 22, 2019
Vandals rob a SiTP public transport bus in Bogotá and go on a berserk joyride:
Nó es Mad Max, es Bogota incendiada por los corruptos de este país.
Para eso les sirven los fajos para generar caos y destruccion. pic.twitter.com/cYFRiYl1ML
— Faustino Asprilla (@TinoasprillaH) November 22, 2019
Below: “In the strike for peace and life, the government kicks us in the face”- by @patatadibujo on Twitter. Used with permission.