Violence against protesters destabilize the Colombian government

Young people march against police violence and Ivan Duque's Government, with banners that read 'No more massacres, I march for life', on the Seventh Avenue in Bogota, Colombia, 12 May 2021. [EPA-EFE/Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda]

Colombia’s foreign minister resigned Thursday (13 May) amid international condemnation of excessive force used by law enforcers against civilians engaged in anti-government protests since 28 April.

Claudia Blum, in a letter to President Ivan Duque, did not specify the reasons for her departure.

“I am sure that… the country will continue on the path of sustainable development, social and economic recovery from the effects of the pandemic, and consolidation of the consensus that confirms the unity and strength of our nation,” she wrote.

Local media and opposition parties said Blum’s resignation was inevitable given the reputational damage caused by a police clampdown condemned by the UN, United States, European Union and international rights groups.

Clashes between police and protesters have resulted in at least 42 deaths — including one police officer — and over 1,500 injuries to date, according to official figures.

NGOs say the number is higher.

Blum is the second minister to resign from President Ivan Duque’s government.

Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla, an author of the tax reform that ignited the protests, stepped down on 28 April.

The tax reform bill has since been withdrawn, but demonstrations have continued, morphing into broader anti-government protest in a country battling ongoing violence and economic hardship made worse by the coronavirus epidemic.

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