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Colombia will deploy thousands of police and soldiers in anticipation of protests scheduled for Tuesday, officials said, as protesters seek to resume an anti-government campaign that has been fought with deadly force.
Defense Minister Diego Molano has warned the government will not tolerate “vandalism, violence or roadblocks,” as Bogota City Council says more than 6,000 police and 2,700 troops will be deployed to control 35 events planned in the capital.
“Tomorrow there will be a series of peaceful protests … but the information we have suggests that there will be infiltrations by certain splinter groups” from the now dissolved left guerrilla FARC, or the ELN, which did not stop. his weapons, Molano said at a public event in Bogota.
He said the factions aimed to “finance the activities of vandalism, violence and obstruction.”
“We will not let this happen,” he said.
Officials said at least 35 people have been arrested in recent days for allegedly planning attacks on the armed forces, and several towns and villages have instituted nighttime curfews and banned alcohol consumption in public.
Colombia has been rocked by weeks of protests that erupted in late April against a proposed tax hike that turned into a mass movement against the right-wing administration of President Ivan Duque.
The demonstrators demanded an end to the police repression. as well as more united public policies to mitigate the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has plunged more than 40% of the country’s 50 million inhabitants into poverty.
The international community condemned the security response which left more than 60 dead, according to the country’s mediator.
A large group representing the protesters – the so-called National Strike Committee – said on June 16 that it would suspend the protests, even though smaller groups continued to demonstrate and block roads.
Colombia is celebrating its independence day on Tuesday and the government will submit a new tax reform proposal to parliament.
The demonstrations will resume “because the national government did not want to discuss these proposals with the National Strike Committee,” said the body in a statement which also denounces the violence against its members.
Earlier this month, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights denounced Colombia’s “disproportionate” and “deadly” response to the protests.
© 2021 AFP