Colombia: The Regime of Terror in Cali

Luis Alfonso Mena S.
https://i.ytimg.com/vi/dKnzdX2ML9g/maxresdefault.jpgIn a failed attempt to crush the National Strike and the youth resistance, Ivan Duque established a regime of terror in Cali and on Friday, June 4, 2021, unleashed a campaign of horror in the north of the city, which left more dead, wounded, disappeared and detained.

According to the Union of Resistances of Cali, URC, which represents the First Lines, there were five homicides perpetrated by the police in Paso del Aguante (Paso del Comercio).

Various sources report that there were more than 20 seriously wounded out of a total of 120 injured throughout that day, which also left at least 15 people detained and several missing.

One of the dead youths was shot in the head and another in the neck.

Among those killed were Cristhian Sanchez, a sportsman and social activist, and Segundo Jaime Rosas, a 21-year-old electrical engineering student at the Universidad del Valle.

At the scene, when the dead were being mourned by the crowd in a green area in the early hours of June 5, the identity card of another of the murdered, Cristian Javier Delgadillo, was made public.

The homicides were committed around 11:00 at night by the repressive forces of the State sent against the youth resistance in Chiminangos and Paso del Comercio, in an extensive day that began at 4:00 in the morning of Friday and lasted for almost 24 hours, until the dawn of Saturday, June 5, day 38 of the strike.

According to sources interviewed by Periodismo Libre, two other young people were taken out of the resistance zone with gunshot wounds in very serious condition (“without vital signs”) and taken to clinics or hospitals.

The two injured had bullet wounds, one in the thorax and the other in the neck. This occurred between 10:00 p.m. and 11:30 p.m., according to one of the sources. They were near the location of the medical brigade of Chiminangos, in Carrera 1ª. with Calle 66, and they were transferred by ambulances. It is only known that one of the ambulances belonged to Amyt Salud.

Moreover, the Human Rights Network ‘Francisco Javier Ocampo Cepeda’ of Cali stated that “cases of murders by armed civilians are being reported by the community”, and added that individuals in private cars picked up their bodies, which prevented them from being identified.

The human rights collective recalled that this event is similar to the procedure carried out on the same Friday by armed civilians near the Police Inspectorate of Siloé, in the southwest, where shots were fired indiscriminately by four civilians and two uniformed officers, who then “forcibly abducted a demonstrator in broad daylight”, at around five in the afternoon.

The regime of terror implemented in Cali by the Duque government is designed to generate panic in the population of the vast northern area, between 66th and 80th Streets, along the entire Carrera 1ª, on the route leading to the Comercio Bridge, over the Cauca River, and extending into the central highway of Valle, which the government intends to clear with blood and fire.

Combined forces of Police, Esmad, Goes, Army and armed civilians (members of the State secret services and paramilitary) acted throughout Friday throughout the length and breadth of the capital of Valle del Cauca, mainly in the areas where the popular sit-ins are maintained, which the business class, complicit in the massacre, has demanded the government crush, such as Paso del Comercio and Portada al Mar, the latter on the route to the port of Buenaventura, on the Pacific Ocean.

“At four o’clock in the morning of Friday the harassment of the army together with the police began, and shortly after the Esmad arrived, all in the course of the day until twelve o’clock at night”, said a first responder, who affirmed that 120 people were wounded in the event and several killed, “one with mass exposure of the encephalic mass and the other with bullet entry through the neck and exit through the right cheek”.

“We attended them, unfortunately we did not have the time, we did our best, but the more we advanced with them, the more wounded arrived”, testified the first responder.

Seven days after 28 M

Every day, Cali is shaken by a police aggression against some geographic sector of the city, which reflects an intentional programming of state repression that harms the population of the popular neighborhoods and turns them into targets of official violence.

The Duque government ignored an agreement signed between the URC and the Cali Mayor’s Office to create a human rights commission and an interlocution table (Decree 304), and imposed his Decree 575, of militarization, blood and fire razing the protests.

“We demand that these actions stop, no more bloodshed, no more violent uprising against our points of resistance,” expressed the URC.

“The Duque government wants to justify its actions by provoking us and spilling more blood, with the clear and desperate intention of increasing violence and thus delegitimize the peaceful social protest that we have been advancing, all this three days before the arrival of the Cidh to Colombia,” said the collective.

The crimes of Friday, June 4 occurred eight days after another day of terror suffered by Cali in the south of the city, on May 28, when 14 people fell under the bullets of police and paramilitaries, among them the 16-year-old Daniel Stiven Sanchez, whose charred body was found inside the Dollarcity store in the Siloé neighborhood, a painful event that shocked the whole country.

And a month after the murder of young Nicolás Guerrero, at the hands of the police, in the same area of Chiminangos-Paso del Comercio, when he was participating in a wake in homage to the first victims of the official repression against the National Strike,

During the week preceding June 4, acts of repression were registered in different parts of Cali, among them in the sector of Meléndez, where several young people were detained and others were persecuted in neighborhoods in the sector.

Meléndez has been another of the points of resistance beaten by the police and armed civilians, due to the firmness of the population, and there two people were killed on the dark night of May 28, the young Inga Sebastián Jacanamejoy and the student Jhonatan David Basto Goyeneche.

Cristhian Sanchez, one of those killed in Paso del Aguante, was a young man dedicated to cycling and highly appreciated for his altruism in the social struggle, while being the breadwinner of his family.

“Last night he was murdered by the criminal government who, without explanation, unloaded rifle bullets into his body, forever extinguishing the incredible energy he transmitted and the love for the people, the neighborhood, the resistance and cycling,” wrote Michael Steven Sánchez Navas on Facebook.

He continued, recalling that Cristhian “was an active member of the cycling clubs since its inception in 2012, when they began to create collectives such as Cicloamigos Cali. ‘Energy’ (as he was called) was a fervent defender of the bicycle space, he coordinated ‘En Bici Arte’ and attended the rides, where he was always aware of the welfare of the people around him, providing water for the group, giving juice to anyone who needed it whenever he had the opportunity”.

“He arrived at the World Bicycle Forum in Medellín, and collaborated with the logistics of the National Bicycle Forum in Cali. He ran the first Velociraptor in Cali and did logistics in Critical Mass, always dedicated to the cause,” he said.

“From the beginning of the Paro he became fully involved in the Resistance where I saw him supporting the different First Lines of the city, providing supplies and calling for order in moments of chaos when the Esmad attacked,” added Michael Steven.

He concluded his heartfelt tribute: “A few hours ago he went out to support the boys of Paso del Comercio and without knowing why… murderous agents of the State discharged rifle bullets into him and took away from us forever that energy that cheered our hearts, and our lives”.

Juan Pablo Murillo, quoted by the wall Cómo sería PR de Cali, wrote: “I wake up with the painful news of the murder of the parcero Cristián ‘Kabe’ -so he was also affectionately called-, who always lived in my sector, from San Antonio to Nacional”.

“I remember him for being a responsible, hard-working, hard-working man with dreams to fulfill. He was part of the First Line of Loma de la Cruz. Today in Paso del Comercio he was shot by the State, they ruthlessly shot him,” said Juan Pablo.

“I had several anecdotes about him, since he always liked sports, but I will always remember this phrase from a few years ago: ‘Don’t wait for the bus, come on, I’ll take you on my motorcycle’. Unforgettable,” he added.

Journalist JahFrann wrote: “The comrade was the economic support of his mother, yesterday he was killed, friends and family are collecting to be able to bury him”.

At war against the people

As if it were a war against the popular neighborhoods, Cali has registered since the beginning of the citizen protest one aggression after another, which indicates a systematic planning on the part of the Public Forces (Police and Military Forces).

The crimes in the large northern area near Paso del Comercio, made up of numerous neighborhoods and housing developments, ranging from the Chiminangos Station to the bridge over the Cauca River, were preceded by constant police and parapolice attacks, which have left several dead, among them the young Venezuelan Sandy Bladimir Sierralta Rodríguez, killed by armed civilians on the night of Thursday, May 20.

Many inhabitants of the area, who became community reporters through social networks, denounced the way in which the police assaulted young people in the streets on Friday, June 4, and forced car drivers to drive through, to create the impression that Carrera 1ª “was clear”.

In the morning hours, the police carried out numerous raids and attacked residences, breaking glass windows with stones and batons, while illegally raiding homes in search of people in solidarity with the youths in resistance. The objective was to wipe out everything that would strengthen the sit-ins.

At the entrances of residential units in the sector, police aggression was also evident in the morning hours, police were seen throwing stones at them, hitting the youths and disrespecting men and women who opposed the arbitrary detention of the youths. A police officer even fired at one of the condominiums.

“If we leave here then they raid our houses, they disappear us, we have no guarantees of anything,” said several young people to María Teresa Mueses, a neighborhood leader from eastern Cali who was supporting the youth resistance throughout the day until late at night and reported through the networks the horror of the repression.

Throughout the area, the Armed Forces were firing mercilessly, while in houses and apartments their inhabitants were crying out for respect and compassion, two qualities that the rulers of this country lack.

In the evening hours, the aggression against the population reached such a level that, according to the Red de DD.HH. ‘Francisco Javier Ocampo Cepeda’, “the security forces celebrated when they wounded or killed the demonstrators, dancing and singing in front of the victims and inhabitants of the sector”.

Attacks on the independent press

Among those injured in Paso de Comercio was French journalist Charles Gros Shelton, who was assaulted in the face by the police while he was covering the events of Friday, fully identified as a foreign press reporter (HK Golden News Press).

In the morning hours of the same Friday, it was discovered that journalist José Alberto Tejada, director of Channel 2 of Cali who has been providing detailed coverage of the youth sit-ins, received a death threat from a police officer.

In response to complaints from the journalist and human rights defenders on the scene, the police officer took refuge in the CAI of the sector, whose members declined to talk about the serious threat against Tejada.

Regardless, the police as an institution is obliged to comment on these two cases of threats to the life and physical integrity of the two journalists, since, at least on paper, the Political Constitution and the Colombian laws guarantee “freedom of the press”.

The regime insists on repressing with blood and fire, with the complicity of international organizations, but it will continue to find a youth ready to resist and to demand their rights with the support of the true democrats of the world.

Translation by Internationalist 360°