Civic strike continues despite violent repression by riot police

News from Colombia | on: Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The civic strike across Colombia's pacific coast was brutally repressed on Friday 19th May by the country's notorious riot police ESMAD. There were reports of indiscriminate use of tear gas and bullets against protestors, with one person killed and over a dozen injured, including children.

Inhabitants of the port city Buenaventura had been on strike since Tuesday, joining the civic strike across the pacific coast and the department of Chocó which has now entered its second week. Citizens are protesting years of government neglect, corrupt, poverty and rampant violence from paramilitary groups. Western Colombia, which has a majority Afro-Colombian and indigenous population, is Colombia's poorest region. In the city of Buenaventura, which is Colombia's most important port, 64% live below the poverty line and half the city have no access to drinking water.

Peaceful marches resumed on Saturday despite the government's ban on public manifestations and imposition of a curfew. As the civic strike continues, the government is sending in officials to negotiate with community leaders. This is not the first time citizens have protested against the humanitarian crisis on the pacific coast, only 3 years ago the government made a series of promises to improve security and invest in the region.

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