Colombia is experiencing its third wave of mass protests since 2019, with marchers voicing grievances over an unpopular and now-withdraw tax overhaul proposal, as well as economic inequality, attacks against social leaders, and the government’s reluctance to throw robust political support behind the historic 2016 peace deal.
In an opinion piece published May 12 by the New York Times, WOLA Director for Defense Oversight Adam Isacson lays out what the Biden administration can do to support Colombia in moving through this recent political turmoil.
“By helping Colombia move toward dialogue, the Biden administration would be developing a template for engaging with counterparts throughout Latin America, where several countries battered by the virus are confronting authoritarian populism amid stark social divides,” Isacson writes. He notes that many political leaders in Colombia support dialogue as the most viable way forwards, although a large portion of President Iván Duque governing party the Democratic Center (Centro Democrático) does not.
Isacson also analyzes how the U.S. government can help push for accountability from elements in the security forces that have committed abuses against protestors.
“As the number of victims continues to mount, the U.S. government should suspend its funding and sales to these security forces until Colombia returns to internationally recognized standards of law enforcement,” Isacson writes.
At this critical moment when so many are marching for transformative change in Colombia, join us in supporting the Afro-Colombian, Indigenous, and rural social leaders who are at the forefront of this fight.