Things That Matter

Colombia Becomes The Latest Latin American Nation To Face Massive Protests And Here’s Why

Colombia closed its borders ahead of a national strike supported by a broad coalition of social movements on Thursday, which saw teargas deployed in the capital Bogota and a curfew ordered in the western city of Cali.

President Ivan Duque, a social conservative, came to power in August 2018 and now faces widespread discontent over rising unemployment, economic reforms and a deteriorating security situation

Protesters marched though cities across the country and clashed with security forces.

Tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of Bogotá and other big cities on Thursday, as the antigovernment protests that have roiled countries in Latin America spread to Colombia.

In the capital, Bogotá, police helicopters whirred overhead, while riot police fired teargas at protesters who had blocked bus routes before dawn. Despite torrential rain, thousands of people thronged the city’s historic Plaza de Simón Bolívar, singing the national anthem.

The marches began in Bogotá largely without incident, although a few clashes broke out near Bogotá airport between protesters and riot police around midday. As the rain cleared, more confrontations broke out across the city in the early evening. Explosions could be heard across the city. Teargas was fired in the Plaza de Simón Bolívar and at the campus of the National University, where protesters battled with security forces.

The protests began with a national strike against President Duque’s policies.

The national strike was prompted by proposed cuts to pensions weeks ago. Though the reform was never formally announced, it became a lightning rod for widespread dissatisfaction with the government of President Iván Duque, whose approval rating has dropped to just 26% since he took office in August last year.

Protesters also expressed anger at the perceived slow-walking of the rollout of the country’s historic 2016 peace deal with the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (or FARC) rebel group. That accord formally ended five decades of civil war that killed 260,000 and forced more than 7 million to flee their homes.

Others say Duque has done little to protect social leaders and indigenous people, who are being murdered at alarming rates. Public fury has also been stoked by a recent airstrike against a camp of dissident rebel drug traffickers, which left eight minors dead.

The reasons behind Colombia’s unrest are very similar to those cited by protestes in both Bolivia and Chile.

Credit: Getty

Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia have already experienced major social unrest this year as governments in the region struggle to deal with popular grievances over economic stagnation, corruption, inequality and more specific national issues.

And as in Chile, which has been mired in more than a month of unrest, many in the expanding middle classes feel left behind as the economy continues to grow.

Marta Lagos, director of polling firm Latinobarometro, drew parallels with other South American nations where frustrations over inequality have boiled over. Lagos said that although things are improving for some people, tensions have arisen due to the speed at which different groups in society are advancing.

Colombian officials also closed several border crossings from Venezuela to Peru.

Credit: Laidbacktrip.com

Border closures mean any entry by land or sea from Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Venezuela will be restricted, according to Colombia’s Migration Agency Director Christian Krüger Sarmiento.

The closures began Wednesday at midnight and will remain in place until Friday at 5 a.m., according to immigration authorities.

The government also gave local authorities permission to impose exceptional measures such as curfews, restrictions on freedom of movement and bans on the sale of alcoholic beverages, according to a statement from the president’s office.

President Duque acknowledged that Colombia faces mounting challenges but his remarks left protesters undeterred.

In a series of videos posted on Twitter, Duque said he recognized peaceful protest as an expression of democracy and acknowledged that Colombia faces multiple challenges.

Duque spoke out against those he said saw protests as an opportunity for “agitation,” and called on protesters to demonstrate peacefully. “We will guarantee public order and we will defend, with all of the tools our constitution gives us, the right of Colombians to live in peace,” he said.

Former Miss Colombia Posts Video Dancing After Part Of Her Left Leg Had To Be Amputated

Fierce

Former Miss Colombia Posts Video Dancing After Part Of Her Left Leg Had To Be Amputated

danielaalvareztv / Instagram

Former Miss Colombia Daniella Álvarez is showing that there is nothing that can keep her down. The former beauty pageant star had to have part of her left leg amputated after complications from a routine surgery.

Daniella Álvarez, a former Miss Colombia, is showing the world her resilience.

After a routine surgical procedure, and several follow up surgeries, part of the beauty pageant star’s left leg was amputated. Despite a major surgery, Álvarez is determined to live out the rest of her dreams and regardless of the amputation.

She recently shared a video on Instagram of her dancing for the first time since the surgery 3 weeks ago.

“Putting swing to life with my favorite partner @rickialvarezv. No matter the difficulties,” Álvarez writes in her post. “We must be resilient in life!”

Álvarez’s story is a cautionary tale of the kinds of complications that can arise from routine surgical procedures.

Álvarez explains that she went in to have a lump removed from her abdomen. Unfortunately, that surgery led to complications that required follow up surgeries to rectify the issues. Those follow up surgeries led to ischemia, which is when blood doesn’t flow where it needs to. The ischemia attacked both of her legs yet the left one was the most impacted.

Doctors tried everything they could to save Álvarez’s left leg.

After multiple surgeries, it became clear to doctors that they would not be able to save Álvarez’s leg. The only option left was to amputate and Álvarez accepted that fate with grace and class. The young woman seemed at peace with the decision and trusted that her doctors had done their jobs to the best of their ability.

Best wishes on an increasingly speedy recovery!

Álvarez’s right leg is not completely healed from the complications but it is getting better.

“The ischemia has also affected the functionality of my other foot as well, I am unable to walk,” Álvarez told La FM, according to Hola. “My right foot feels completely asleep and hasn’t woken up and we don’t know how long it will take for the foot to start functioning again.”

READ: Colombia’s Beauty Queen Winner Shared Her Brave Decision To Have Her Leg Amputated

St. Louis Protesters Return To The Area Where A White Couple Drew Guns At Activists

Things That Matter

St. Louis Protesters Return To The Area Where A White Couple Drew Guns At Activists

Michael B. Thomas / Getty

In another display of a peaceful protests, activists returned the site of a St. Louis mansion owned by the white couple who drew out their guns during a calm demonstration last month. On Friday, chanting protesters returned to the home of Patricia and Mark McClosky, stopping just outside of their gate to protest for nearly 15 minutes.

During the peaceful protest over a dozen men in plain clothes walked the area inside of the gate.

According to Time Magazine, “One protester briefly straddled an iron gate as if he was going to jump over, but did not. No one threw anything and no one behind the gates showed aggression. One man on the McCloskeys’ balcony clapped along with the chanting protesters.” The crowd of protesters included a racially diverse crowd carrying signs calling to “Defund the Police” and underlining that “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace.” Chants included calls like “when Black lives are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back,” and “this is what democracy looks like.”

According to reports, it is unknown if the McCloskeys were home. Soon after, the protestors left and marched to Interstate 64. Police had closed off the roads to traffic in both directions to allow protestors to march onto the highway. There the protestors sat on the highway for several minutes to honor the life of George Floyd who died on May 25 after a white police officer pressed his knee to his neck for over eight minutes.

The recent rally was organized by the group Expect Us and is among various demonstrations in St. Louis that have taken place in the weeks since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

The McCloskeys first came to national attention in mid-June after they had been spotted aiming guns at protesters outside their home in St. Louis. Soon after the images of them began circulating Twitter dubbed them “Ken and Karen” and the stars of the “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” remake no one asked for. The incident occurred as protesters marched their way towards the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson who declared in a Facebook post that she would not support rising calls to defund the police. She also reportedly shared activists’ full names and addresses while reading off suggestions on how to better spend the city’s funds. After users ridiculed her online, Krewson apologized for her actions saying “Never did I intend to harm anyone or cause distress,” Krewson tweeted. “The update is removed and again, I apologize.”