The Colombian Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Ombudsman have activated the Urgency Search Mechanism (MBU) on the 168 inquiries they have received since the open-ended general strike against the government of Iván Duque on April 28 regarding missing persons.
However, a further 153 applications were considered, which were rejected due to insufficient information and for which they were declared “unfounded”. In addition, government institutions have reported that another 227 people have been found these days and their disappearance has been denounced.
On May 6, 26 social organizations filed a report showing 379 cases of people reported missing during the protests.
“The search unit, within its powers and as a transitional justice mechanism, must search for people who have disappeared during the armed conflict, but it must also seek to identify events that were part of the armed conflict, such as disappearances,” said the director the victim unit, Luz Marina Monzón, according to the Colombian press.
According to official sources, there are one uniformed man and 26 civilians killed during the strike, while organizations such as the NGO Temblores claim to have received 39 complaints of deaths from members of the security forces.
The public ministry announced on May 7 that 32 investigations into suspected police abuse had been opened: 18 with the Delegate for the Defense of Human Rights and 14 provincial and regional preliminary inquiries.
In the meantime, there were new and massive demonstrations in support of the indefinite general strike this Monday. Some blockades are being maintained in Bogotá and Cundinamarca and there have been demonstrations against Duque in many other cities.
The Duke himself apparently called for the blockades to be lifted. “The call is that we all continue to unite our voices, we can always step in to evaluate the positions of the other, to know, to approximate, but we must all ask clearly and transparently that these blockages are lifted,” said he.
“The total rejection of the blockades is fundamental as Colombian society cannot be kidnapped and these types of practices are violent, even if they are not carried out with guns and aggression. Restriction of mobility, the right to work, the right to Food, no it can be seen as a peaceful expression, “he argued.
The government’s first meeting with the National Unemployment Committee is scheduled for the same Monday. “We have been listening to different groups for a week and now we also have the opportunity to listen to the unemployment committee to say that agreements and much more can be made in this country,” he argued.
The protests, which rocked Colombia for twelve days and claimed at least 27 deaths according to the government – more than 40 according to civil organizations – began as a mobilization against the tax reform proposed by the government of President Iván Duque, but only once it is withdrawn, seven demands remain exist and will be on the table in negotiations between the executive and the National Unemployment Committee.