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Montevideo, July 1st 2022 - 23:45 UTC



Protesters in Colombia seek global support around football stadiums

Thursday, May 13th 2021 - 09:20 UTC
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Videos went viral on social media of ESMAD firing tear gas and stun bombs at protesters Videos went viral on social media of ESMAD firing tear gas and stun bombs at protesters

Despite calls for a broad, transparent, and inclusive dialogue between protesters and Colombian President Iván Duque, police repression at the hands of the infamous Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) was reported Wednesday evening in Barranquilla.

What was so shocking about this episode of violence which would otherwise be just another incident in a country full of violent incidents, was that the repressive action was taking place not far from where the Copa Libertadores match between local club Junior and Argentina's River Plate was taking place and therefore the gunshots and explosions could be heard live by thousands of TV viewers worldwide.

Demonstrators have chosen widely covered events such as regional football competitions to raise worldwide awareness about the repression going on in that country, but it seemed not to deter Duque's forces in Barranquilla as it happened in Medellín.

Non-government Organizations (NGOs) Wednesday denounced repression in streets adjacent to the Romelio Martínez Olympic Stadium, known as El Metropolitano, located in the Colombian city of Barranquilla, capital of the department of Atlántico.

Scores of protesters had gathered outside the stadium demanding that the game be cancelled due to the unrest in Colombia.

Videos went viral on social media of ESMAD firing tear gas and stun bombs, while inside the stadium the first half of the match was played.

These actions have been described as similar to those in 1978 during the World Cup in Argentina where football matches were played not far from clandestine detention centres where killings and torture took place.

Reports from Colombia underline Duque's intention not to give in an iota to protesters and to meet their peaceful marches with state-of-the-art weaponry.

According to the NGO Temblores, from the beginning of the demonstrations in Colombia on April 28 until the recent May 10, there were 1,956 cases of police brutality, 313 cases of physical violence, 1,003 arbitrary detentions, and 418 violent interventions against people who offered no resistance.

The Junior-River match was never halted and it ended in a 1-1 draw, the Argentine team equalizing two minutes into injury time.

Meanwhile, demonstrators did manage to delay  the clash between Atlético Nacional of Medellín and Nacional FC from Montevideo.

And unaware of all these things, the Colombian organizers of the Copa America, which is due to start next month in a country that does not seem fit to host such an international event, Wednesday launched an adapted version of Marc Anthony's song “La Gozadera” to be the musical theme of the tournament.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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