Expert identifies the Colombian government’s refusal to give up on state-level “violence and terror” as the reason Bogota keeps failing to come to terms with protest movements in the country.
Ollie Vargas, an analyst and reporter based in the Bolivian capital of La Paz, made the remarks to Press TV in an interview on Thursday as angry protests rage on throughout the Latin American nation.
Colombians began pouring out on the streets against the government’s planned tax reforms more than a month ago. The outrage has, however, snowballed into protest against “the violence of, what many would call, narco-state,” he said.
The demonstrations are bubbling up across the country “on a daily basis,” he said, and have paralyzed its key centers.
Now, protest movements are pressing for “ending repression, the state violence, and the militarization of cities,” Vargas said.
However, dialog between the government and the protest leaders have continually broken down so far because Bogota would not negotiate the aggression that has become inherent to the country’s ruling structure, the expert said.
“That for them is not on the table,” he noted.
“That level of violence is part of the structure of the Colombian state. That level of terror is a core characteristic of the Colombian government.”
Vargas, meanwhile, noted how the diversity and extent of the protest rallies had come to “represent the level of territorial power on the part of the protest movements.”
He mentioned the violence committed by ESMAD, or the country’s Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squad, as another focal point of the protests, saying the riot police force had been “responsible for most of the killings in Colombia.”
On Thursday, Human Rights Watch extended a similar criticism against the country’s entire police force, saying the Colombian National Police had deployed “egregious” violence to confront the protests.
The so-called law enforcement forces committed the aggression against mostly peaceful demonstrators, the New York-based body said, asking Bogota to “initiate a comprehensive police reform effort to ensure that officers respect the right of peaceful assembly, and bring those responsible for abuses to justice.”