Bogotá. Usme. Colombia. May 27. 2021. This Wednesday, May 26, police repression was brutal in the protests that took place in Usme, in the south of Bogota. The police attacked the protest at 11:00 a.m., however, the demonstrators remained in the streets for almost twelve hours. This day resulted in cases of people missing, threatened and almost 200 got injured.
Since the beginning of the “Paro Nacional”, the number of resistance points in the capital has increased every day. It is no longer only Portal Resistencia, but also Usme, Soacha, Bosa, places where massive mobilizations at night do not stop. At the same time, there has been an increase in attacks by security forces.
The mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López, has emphasized the need to dialogue and stop the violence that the protesters experience night after night; however, her discourse is not translated into what actually happens in the streets. There, neither the lines of command nor the orders given to police officers are clear. The actions of the uniformed officers break any protocol or regulations that determine the limits and forms of police procedures.
Although these acts are systematic in nature, what happened in Usme yesterday exceeds the figures of violence that have been recorded during the national strike in the capital.
As confirmed by the Colombia Informa team who were in the field with human rights organizations, 185 people were injured in an eleven-hour period of police intervention and action. This breaches any intention of dialogue and mitigation of the conflict as expressed by the administration.
Of those 185 people, at least twenty suffered impacts to their heads, five of which were serious. Among the latter is the case of Jhonatan Guarnizo, a 29 year old young man who was part of the demonstration and who was hit by tear gas in his head. According to doctors at the Tunal Hospital and Luis Ernesto Gómez, Secretary of Government, Jhonatan remains in critical condition with a severe polytrauma of his skull that compromises his spinal column.
In addition to this, there were reports made by several young people during a live broadcast on Colombia Informa’s Instagram account. Through this channel they assured that they had no information about the whereabouts of some of their companions who had been detained early in the morning by uniformed forces.
Colombia Informa also recorded a report from the Tenerife and Chuniza neighborhoods, where the community found bullet shells from firearms and claimed that the police were firing against the demonstrators with live ammo.
In previous days, gunshots had also been reported during attacks by Esmad (Colombian riot police) in Portal Resistencia, formerly known as Portal Américas.
Aggression against the media and human rights defenders
Not only have there been constant attacks by the police against demonstrators, but also against the Colombia Informa team. Yesterday the journalist who was covering the demonstration was harassed, insulted and threatened by a group of police officers, most of them without identification.
The uniformed officers held the correspondent for more than ten minutes during which they repeatedly spoke to him with homophobic slurs and questioned the work of the journalists of this media outlet.
Furthermore, Andrés Idárraga, director of the Human Rights sub-directorate of the mayor’s office, denounced the aggression that his team suffered from uniformed forces.