The US urges Colombian public forces to have “maximum restraint” to avoid more deaths

The United States on Tuesday urged law enforcement agencies to Colombia to act with “utmost restraint” to avoid further deaths during massive anti-government protests that have left at least 19 deaths.

“We urge the public forces for maximum restraint to avoid further loss of life,” the deputy spokeswoman for the State Department, Jalina Porter, said at a press conference, adding that Washington continues to support the government in “its efforts to confront to the current situation through political dialogue ”.

The official indicated that her country is “saddened” by the “loss of life and sends her condolences to the families and friends of all the victims.”

Porter added that throughout the world citizens of democratic countries have an “unquestionable” right to protest peacefully and clarified that “violence and vandalism are an abuse of this right.”

The protests began on Wednesday as a movement against a tax reform that the government of right-wing Iván Duque ended up withdrawing and which led to the departure of the finance minister. This Tuesday the demonstrations and blockades in the streets continued in several cities to protest omo protests against the government.

Human rights defenders and NGOs denounce threats and cases of police violence, which include civilians killed at the hands of soldiers.

For its part, the UN condemned the “excessive use of force” by the authorities, while the European Union asked them “to avoid the disproportionate use of force.”

In this sense, the US official recognized “the commitment of the government of Colombia to investigate complaints of police excesses and to address any violation of human rights ”.

The South American country is going through a tough economic situation derived from the coronavirus pandemic that hit the continent hard, which caused a contraction of the local GDP of 6.8% in 2020, bringing unemployment to 16.8% in March and plunging almost half the population in informality and poverty, according to official figures.