The Minister of Defense of Colombia, Diego Molano, defended this Monday the police actions during a debate on a motion of censure in Congress where senators and representatives accused him of being “politically responsible” for the police violence in the protests that began on April 28.
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The seven-hour session, which ended without a vote to remove the minister from office, was called by 18 congressmen for “human rights violations” allegedly committed by the security forces during the violent demonstrations, which left at least 43 dead and 129 people listed as missing.
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The debate was also attended by the young Juan Fonseca, who lost an eye during the protests, allegedly due to the action of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad of the Police (Esmad), and relatives of Santiago Murillo, killed during the demonstrations.
Family members of Lucas Villa, another who was killed in the protests by unknown persons, also intervened.
“What hurts the most is freedom, as they harm a good person, an honest person. I work in the kitchen, I work preparing food, for many of you all of a sudden, and it is difficult tomorrow, all of a sudden, not to fulfill this dream again, but I hope I can come out of all this one day, ”Fonseca said with a broken voice.
During the debate, congressmen from parties such as the ruling Democratic Center and the right-wing Cambio Radical y Conservador, with majorities in both chambers, showed their willingness to reject the motion of no confidence that is supported by members of the Green Alliance, from the List of the Decency and the Liberal Party, among others.
In Colombia, no minister has been removed from office by a vote of no confidence in Congress.
RESPECT FOR THE PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION
In his speech, the minister stressed that the Government respects “the peaceful demonstration” but that it is forceful “against violence and all de facto means that affect the rights of Colombians.”
In that sense, he mentioned the blockades, which he said are not “terrorism” but are crimes that are affecting “every day” food security and supply in places like Cali and Popayán, the two most important cities in southwestern Colombia.
“Wherever a blockade has arisen, we return to act with the public force,” said the minister.
Molano also responded to accusations of human rights violations committed by the police during the demonstrations, which according to the NGO Temblores have caused the death of 43 people, and said that when the security forces act, they do so in compliance with operating protocols.
The minister recalled that the Prosecutor’s Office said today that 43 people have died in these days, although only “17 of them have a direct link in the framework of the protests” and that in three of those cases, in which the Police are supposedly involved, They were detained in uniforms who are being processed by the courts.
He also expressed his concern about “the systematic attack on the Police” and mentioned as an example what happened on May 4 when a mob set fire to a police station in Bogotá, where 10 agents managed to escape the flames.
CRITICISMS FROM THE LEFT
Before the debate, dozens of people demonstrated in the Plaza de Bolívar in Bogotá, in front of the Capitol, where they brought funeral wreaths in memory of the deceased and showed their support for the motion of censure against Molano.
The conveners’ interventions were led by leftist senators Iván Cepeda and Wilson Ruiz, who accused Molano of being “one of the highest political leaders in the systematic chain of crimes against humanity that have been perpetrated by agents and groups of the force. public in Colombia since last April 28 ”.
“During these 25 days you are directly responsible for this situation. He has designed the policy under which these massive violations have been committed; it has stigmatized peaceful mobilizations and those who have promoted or participated in them, and has encouraged violations by exalting their perpetrators and inciting violence, “Cepeda explained.
For his part, Senator Gustavo Petro, rival in the 2018 elections of today’s President Iván Duque and a pre-candidate for those of 2022, affirmed that “when the State kills unarmed citizens and children, this is not called a social state of law, it is he calls it state terrorism ”.
“What we are experiencing today is precisely the ethical bankruptcy of the Colombian State,” said Petro, head of the Colombia Humana movement.
While it was being debated, the dialogues between the Government and the National Unemployment Committee (CNP), of which unions and social organizations are part, continued this Monday without concrete progress to start a negotiation to put an end to the social crisis that Colombia is experiencing.
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