Colombia Steps Up Troop Presence After 14 Die in Cali Violence
(Bloomberg) -- Colombia President Ivan Duque deployed more troops to the city of Cali and the surrounding region after violent clashes that have left at least 14 dead since Friday.
More than 1,100 soldiers arrived Saturday to ensure the security and mobility of the population, according to a presidential statement on May 29. The government added 25 military patrols in areas of the country’s third-largest city, the statement added.
“All the security forces and all of the institutionalism are united here for the citizens’ welfare,” Duque said on Saturday in Popayan, a city in southwest Colombia, after visiting Cali.
In addition to the fatalities, at least 98 people have been injured since Friday, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who called for a prompt and independent investigation.
Videos published by local media appeared to show armed men in civilian dress opening fire while alongside police officers, who didn’t intervene. Jose Miguel Vivanco, the executive director for the Americas for Human Rights Watch, said the actions were “incompatible with being a government that abides by the rule of law.”
One of the dead in recent days was an off-duty investigator for the Attorney General’s Office who was lynched after he opened fire on protesters in circumstances that are still unclear.
The wave of demonstrations in the South American country began on April 28 to oppose a government plan to raise taxes, but has grown into a mass protest movement with a range of other grievances, including police brutality, corruption and inequality. The government estimates the cumulative damage at $2.8 billion over the last month.
Since nationwide street demonstrations began, the government took a step back, withdrawing the tax reform from Congress and changed the finance minister. The nation also lost its investment grade rating from S&P Global Ratings.
With blockages also causing widespread shortages of goods including food, inflation is expected to jump to 3% this month from 1.95% in April, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The nation’s fiscal deficit will widen to 8.6% of gross domestic product this year, according to the government’s forecast, from 2.5% in 2019.
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