“It is unacceptable for a mother to lose her only child because of brutality and for the lives of 18 other people to be taken away in a peaceful protest,” posted pop star Shakira.
International organizations, as well as high-profile celebrities, are drawing attention to the situation in Colombia, where protests against a pandemic-related tax hike have left at least 19 dead and hundreds injured.
“We need help. Colombia needs help, SOS,” Latin music star J Balvin, who is Colombian, posted on Instagram, writing in Spanish that “there is no control over the situation.”
“It is unacceptable for a mother to lose her only child because of brutality and for the lives of 18 other people to be taken away in a peaceful protest,” posted pop star Shakira, who is also Colombian.
The city of Cali, in the west, became the epicenter of the protests, where 11 of the 19 deaths occurred, although there were protests across the country. Defensoría del Pueblo de Colombia, its public ombudsman, said 89 people were missing after the protests, according to press reports.
The European Union warned of the excessive use of force by the authorities in the protests, which were triggered by the tax hikes that President Iván Duque insisted was necessary to repair the country’s economy. The Andean country’s economy fell by almost 7% last year because of the pandemic. Duke announced on Sunday that he would withdraw the proposal and said he would seek a new one.
But the protests, which started last week, were also about anger over rising poverty, inequality and what advocacy groups call excessive force on the part of the police.
More protests are planned and the High Commissioner for Human Rights called for calm and warned of police shootings.
Duque said his government will present another proposal for tax reform and called for unity during his evening television program.