Colombians need political leadership that responds to the current anger in the streets with effective strategies to tackle the country’s social and fiscal crises, while relying on increased vaccination to defeat the pandemic. But with the radical right and populist left on the rise, expecting this anytime soon is wishful thinking.
While the United States and other advanced economies are returning to normalcy, Colombia reported its highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths to date during the last week of June. Since early May, the country has been recording one COVID-19 death per 100,000 people per day – three times India’s rate.
By Nicole Tirado, Paula Gamboa, Tatiana Valenzuela, Yuliana Aborda, Roxanna Barrera and Diana Carolina Ortiz
Our history teacher says that, in the twenty-first century, citizens do not engage with political parties because what moves them now is the analysis of concepts and narratives that shape them as political subjects—as citizens with voices and rights. This implies awareness and the memory that, in Colombian history, fear has lived with us as another citizen. Part of Colombia’s origin has been violence, and with it comes fear; we know this, as do those who govern us. For this reason, nowadays we’re going through a national strike whose main slogan is fear. Current events are nothing other than the repetition of Colombian history: fear of death, missing people whose mothers mourn their absence, corpses that cannot be identified, and speeches that endorse violence by armed forces, who profess to defend the public good but not the public, not the people of their own country.
Over the past two weeks, crowds across the United States and the world have taken to the streets to protest a series of recent killings of black US Americans.
On February 23, 25-year old Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while on a run after being pursued by a former police officer and his son. The following month, police in Louisville, Kentucky executed a search warrant to force themselves into the home of 26-year old Breonna Taylor, an E.M.T. They shot her at least 8 times, killing her in her own bed. Last month, a Minneapolis police officer was charged with homicide after pinning George Floyd on the ground and kneeling on his neck for almost 9 minutes.
The day after Floyd’s death, protests began in Minneapolis as citizens called for the police officer responsible for Floyd’s death, along with the three other officers present at the time, to be held accountable. Quickly, solidarity protests spread throughout the nation, with marches taking place in all 50 states and participants demanding an end to police brutality and systematic racism in the United States. Some protests have led to looting and destruction of property, which has been met by violence from police with the use of rubber bullets, tear gas, arrests, and beatings. Reports of police indiscriminately tear gassing, striking, and arresting peaceful protestors has led to concern and outcry. In one instance, peaceful protesters were removed from Lafayette Square in front of the White House with tear gas and rubber bullets so President Donald Trump could walk to a photo op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church. The American Civil Liberties Union is now suing Trump and other federal officials involved.
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