Colombia Protests: Police Drive, Constructed for Warfare, Finds a New One

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On the time, the federal government hoped to professionalize and depoliticize the job by consolidating a fragmented system right into a nationwide drive, mentioned Juan Carlos Ruíz, a professor and safety skilled at Colombia’s Universidad del Rosario.

By the 2000s, the police had change into a important participant in a counterinsurgency technique geared toward rooting out the FARC, wherein the army cleared rebels from territory and the police held that floor. The technique labored, forcing the rebels to barter. And it earned the police “very excessive ranges of citizen belief,” mentioned Paul Angelo, a fellow on the Council on Overseas Relations.

However for the reason that peace deal, little has modified throughout the police division.

Juan Manuel Santos, who was president when the deal was signed, had lengthy supported transferring the police out of the protection ministry. However the thought had been unpopular with the armed forces, partly as a result of the police convey cash and manpower into the ministry, Mr. Angelo mentioned. By the point Mr. Santos had signed the peace deal, he had little time left in workplace, and even much less political capital. The change was by no means made.

Now, police reform advocates are once more pushing to maneuver the 140,000-officer drive from the protection division into the inside ministry — and to prioritize human rights coaching, restrict weaponry, and take a look at officers who commit crimes in unusual courts as a substitute of army ones.

In an interview, the top of the nationwide police, Gen. Jorge Luis Vargas, mentioned he had introduced a reform plan to the nation earlier this 12 months. However the police shouldn’t be moved out of the protection ministry, he mentioned.

“The scenario of drug trafficking and unlawful teams right now doesn’t enable it,” he mentioned, calling these points “the principle drawback in Colombia.”

The protests started in late April, when Mr. Duque proposed a tax overhaul meant to assist shut a fiscal gap exacerbated by the pandemic. Already, the nation was on edge: After a 12 months of Covid-related restrictions, the outbreak was solely getting worse, together with poverty, inequality and joblessness.

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