Cali, Colombia – Cali became the epicenter of anti-government protests since April 28 on a tax reform proposal from the right-wing government of President Ivan Duque which intends to tax basic goods and food for an already impoverished working class going through the pandemic.
The streets of Cali, Colombia’s third largest city with nearly 2.5 million inhabitants, have witnessed intense police violence and alleged human rights violations.
According to Temblores, an independent human rights NGO that documented the protests, 47 civilians were killed by Colombian police, including 32 in Cali; while the state attorney’s office says the number is 27.
The protests, which started over the tax proposal, are now aimed at tackling economic and social inequalities, managing the pandemic and killing civilians at the hands of the police since the unrest began.
Protesters have erected roadblocks and barricades around the city which they call “points of resistance”. In Siloam, one of Cali’s most neglected and poorest neighborhoods, the barricade has become the scene of violent clashes.
On Wednesday, tensions eased for a community lunch and open speeches. At “Port de la Resistance”, one of the largest barricades in the city, the day was filled with music and tributes to the demonstrators who were killed. The day passed peacefully.
Protesters say they won’t budge until their demands are met. Meanwhile, their barricades block some of the city’s entry routes, causing fuel and other shortages.