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World Celebrities, international groups call attention to Colombia's deadly protests

23:15  04 may  2021
23:15  04 may  2021 Source:   nbcnews.com

Mother searches for son believed killed by Colombia soldiers

  Mother searches for son believed killed by Colombia soldiers BUCARAMANGA, Colombia (AP) — Doris Tejada last heard from her son on New Year’s Eve 2007. Óscar Alexander had left her home in central Colombia to travel to a city on the border with Venezuela to earn money selling clothes to help his family after losing his job as a surveyor’s assistant. Four years later, Tejada said, she felt a chill of premonition while watching a news report on television in which a group of Colombian mothers blamed the military for the murders of their missing children. “What is happening with their children is the same that is happening to us,” she said that night to her husband, Darío Morales. “They say it is a false positive.

International organizations as well as high-profile celebrities are calling attention to the situation in Colombia, where protests over a planned pandemic-related tax hike have left at least 19 dead and hundreds injured.

a row of parked motorcycles sitting in front of a crowd © Provided by NBC News

"We need help. Colombia needs help, SOS,"the Latin music star J Balvin, who is Colombian, posted on Instagram, also writing in Spanish that there's "no control over the situation."

"It's unacceptable that a mother loses her only son because of brutality and that another 18 people's lives were yanked away in a peaceful protest," the pop star Shakira, who is also Colombian, posted.

Colombia's bloody protests could be a warning to the region

  Colombia's bloody protests could be a warning to the region Tensions have hardly dissipated in Colombia after President Ivan Duque withdrew a controversial fiscal reform proposal this weekend. Six days of protests had seen at least 19 people killed and hundreds injured. Now, the demonstrations have evolved into a broader popular show of anger. © Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images Demonstrators and police clash at a protest against he tax reform bill in Bogota. Thousands of people are still taking to the streets to protest against police brutality and the economic cost of the pandemic amid Colombia's extreme inequality.

The western city of Cali has become the protests’ epicenter where 11 of the 19 deaths occurred, though there have been protests around the country. Colombia's Defensoría del Pueblo, its public ombudsman, stated that 89 people were missing following the protests, according to news reports.

The European Union warned about the use of excessive force by authorities at the protests, which were sparked by the tax hike that President Iván Duque insisted is necessary to fix the country’s economy. The Andean country’s economy fell by almost 7 percent last year because of the pandemic. Duque announced Sunday that he would withdraw the proposal and said he would seek a new one.

a group of people racing each other on a snow covered road: Image: (Luis Robayo / AFP - Getty Images) © Luis Robayo Image: (Luis Robayo / AFP - Getty Images)

But the protests, which began last week, were also about anger over rising poverty, inequality and what advocacy groups call excessive force by the police.

UN human rights office 'alarmed' over police violence in Colombia

  UN human rights office 'alarmed' over police violence in Colombia Top of The World: The violent crackdown on anti-government protests in the Colombian city of Cali has prompted concern over the excessive use of police force. And, an unclassified US intelligence report released Tuesday warned that Afghan women’s rights will be at risk after the US troop and NATO allies withdrawal later this year. Also, security authorities in Myanmar have been arresting and disappearing thousands of people.A police officer throws a stun grenade at protesters during a national strike against tax reform in Cali, Colombia, May 3, 2021.

More protests are planned and the High Commissioner for Human Rights urged for calm and warned of police shootings.

Duque has said his government will come up with another tax reform proposal and called for unity during his nightly television show.

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Colombia ups deployment of security forces to Cali amid violence .
Colombia ups deployment of security forces to Cali amid violenceUnions called strikes on Wednesday in Colombia's main cities to demand the government of President Ivan Duque withdraw the reform, which it presented to congress earlier this month as it tries to increase tax income.

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