The Mayor of Cali, Jorge Iván Ospina, has reported that there will be no presence of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) and yes, the community’s “blue helmets” during the marches this Wednesday in the city in southwest Colombia .
“We respect the right to mobilize and protest. We will accompany our blue helmets and pay attention to this cultural and family celebration, as they have called it,” said Ospina, who publishes the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.
ESMAD has been widely questioned not only by human rights organizations but also by some local authorities because of the police brutality they waged against the management of Iván Duque’s government during protests in various cities across the country.
The Minister of Security of Cali, Carlos Alberto Rojas, wrote on his Twitter account that “it is important to emphasize that ESMAD will not be present during the marches” but that all the institutions of the City Mayor’s Office will be present to ” to ensure constitutional and institutional order “.
Cali, he said, “is continuing the process of building spaces that will safeguard human rights and consolidate a culture of peace and reconciliation.”
One of the cities hardest hit by the clashes between protesters and police is Cali, where there have been 17 deaths out of 42 reported by the Colombian government itself, including an agent.
After nearly twenty days of protest, more than 600 people have been injured, according to human rights organizations, including thirty eye injuries, dozens of disappearances, more than 1,400 arbitrary arrests and even episodes of sexual violence at police stations.