"With this awareness of the Colombian people, rising up against our government, we are in resistance mode!"

Since 28 April, a wave of protests has swept through Colombia. After the outright rejection of the tax reform, which would undoubtedly affect the poorest people, the entire policy of Ivan Duque’s government is now being met with fierce protests. On 19 May, the port city of Buenaventura bore witness to police repression. David Sinza, a member of Emmaus Buenaventura, talks to us about this unprecedented crisis affecting his country and his city.

 “The national strike in Colombia originally began as a protest against a tax reform which intended to increase VAT on household basic food items, thus affecting middle- and lower-income families, especially those communities that have historically faced extreme poverty, further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Human dignity came to the fore when the Finance Minister, Alberto Carrasquilla, made erroneous statements about the value of eggs in the market. This then triggered the national strike, which was only supposed to be held on 28 April but which is still ongoing. At this point in time, we have now been holding peaceful demonstrations for 23 days, with brutal repression by the state and clashes which so far have resulted in over 40 deaths. With this awareness of the Colombian people, rising up against our government, we are now in resistence mode!”

Buenaventura, a strategic city for President Iván Duque

“Yesterday, the National Police Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD, for its Spanish acronym) arrived in Buenaventura to enforce President Iván Duque’s latest order to clear the roads at all costs, violating the established agreements and forcing the communities to resist so that the talks with the National Strike Committee can come to fruition. It is important to bear in mind that Buenaventura is a strategically located city for the transport of goods, which makes it all the more important that the roads are cleared, overriding the peaceful protests that have been taking place. The city is now at a critical juncture, as vandalism has taken hold, further affecting businesses and exacerbating food shortages throughout the city”.

Copyright : David Sinza