Washington (May 7, 2021) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) released the following statement responding to reports that 23 people and one police officer have been killed as Colombian security forces crackdown against protests spurred by a deeply unpopular tax reform bill proposed by the government of President Ivan Duque.
“My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of the victims of this terrible violence,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “The people of Colombia have already faced an indescribably difficult year as the pandemic exacerbated inequality and poverty throughout the country. When Colombians took to the streets to peacefully voice their opposition to a government policy they felt would imperil their well-being even further, they were met with batons and bullets instead of open ears. The peace and democratic governance that Colombia has experienced in recent years was hard-fought and the government must respect the fundamental human rights of every Colombian, which includes the right to peaceful assembly and expression. Security forces and police must immediately cease attacks on protesters and all sides should seek steps to deescalate and support a dialogue to chart a path forward towards greater dignity, equality, and justice for the people of Colombia.”
“The United States must not be complicit in human rights abuses and I call on the State Department to ensure that no U.S. assistance goes to Colombian security forces engaged in severe human rights abuses, as required by the Leahy Law. Furthermore, those who are engaged in violence against peaceful protesters should be subject to visa and banking restrictions as authorized in U.S. law. The United States must make it clear through diplomacy at all levels with the Colombian government that these abuses must not continue.”