24 Protestors Become Victims of Columbian Police Brutality

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR:  You have an issue of violence right now?

CLAUDIA LOPEZ HERNANDEZ, MAYOR OF BOGOTA, COLOMBIA: Christiane, it’s a great pleasure to talk to you. And thank you so much for the opportunity. There has been eight days of protest in Bogota, two of them extremely violent, unfortunately. The demonstrators have been specific. It’s mostly young people who try to raise their voice and their claims. Unfortunately, in other cities in Colombia, 24 people have been killed, fortunately enough, none of them in Bogota. But it does not mean that some riots and violence and also police abuse has been occurring in the capital. What we need at this moment is calm, a political agreement to hear the voice of the young protesters in the streets. That, unfortunately, has not been invited yet by the president.

AMANPOUR: So tell us, Mayor, what the young people want. And have you ever seen, either as mayor or in your career or in your lifetime, this kind of protest on the streets in your capital and elsewhere around the country?

LOPEZ HERNANDEZ: Yes, I mean, this is — social movement in Bogota and in Colombia are extremely powerful. They march. They raise their voice. I have been part of that social movement. I was also young 30 years ago, and I was part of the student movement in Colombia. We claimed peace. We claimed inclusion. It is mostly a pacifist movement, but, unfortunately, there is still some violence and some riots that end in violence. Last year, in September, we have a very critical situation in Bogota in which, because of George Floyd-type of abuse in Bogota, there were riots, extremely violent, and police officers indiscriminately shooting people in my city. Ten young members of my city were killed. More than 300 were wounded. So, I denounced this nationally, internationally. I confronted both the police, which is a national police — we don’t have local police in Bogota– and the president. We were able, a city, to enforce some agreements to reduce violence, to prevent police abuse and violence in my city. And, fortunately enough, that been useful for these times. Nobody has been killed in Bogota in eight — these days of protest.

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Police brutality and excess force is a growing concerning in Central America. International relations experts are worried about possible regional implications.