May 07, 2021
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez expressed solidarity with working people in Colombia in a statement released late Thursday, denouncing the recent killing of protesters by security forces in the South American country.
The New York Democrat, whose congressional district includes parts of Queens--home to more Colombian-Americans than any other county in the U.S.--said she stands "with our Colombian brothers and sisters, in NY-14 and abroad, against the state killing of protesters."
"All people should have a fundamental right to demonstrate against their elected leaders," Ocasio-Cortez said. "These citizens were protesting against anti-working class reforms and, for that, they lost their lives. There must be accountability for the long string of human rights abuses exercised by the Colombian government."
As Common Dreams reported this week, human rights advocates and world leaders have condemned the Colombian government's violent crackdown on demonstrators at protests against a tax reform plan which favors the wealthy. The government recently reported an unemployment rate of 16% amid the coronavirus pandemic, and between 37% and 47% of Colombian people live below the poverty line.
At least 25 people have been killed--11 by right-wing security forces, according to CNN--and hundreds have been injured since the protests began on April 28. The demonstrations have spread to nearly 250 cities and towns as working class people express outrage over the government's violent response, which has included the use of tear gas and batons.
President Ivan Duque has blamed "drug-trafficking mafias" for the unrest, echoing right-wing lawmakers and commentators in the U.S. who blamed violence at last year's racial justice protests on demonstrators--despite data showing nearly 1,000 incidents of police violence at the protests.
The Colombian newspaper El Espectadorreported on Ocasio-Cortez's statement, along with expressions of solidarity from Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and New York state Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-13).
On Friday, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) added her voice to the chorus of progressives speaking out against the state-sanctioned violence.
\u201cWhat we are witnessing in Colombia is devastating & unacceptable. Mothers robbed of their sons. Students shot in the street.\n\nState-sanctioned violence is a transnational issue.\n\nI stand in solidarity with the people of Colombia who are protesting against poverty & inequality.\u201d— Ayanna Pressley (@Ayanna Pressley) 1620394477
"State-sanctioned violence is a transnational issue," Pressley said.
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