Things That Matter

At Least 17 Dead And Hundreds Injured Following Massive Protests Across Colombia

A massive protest movement that swept across Colombia seems to have paid off – at least in the short term – as President Ivan Duque says that he will withdrawal the controversial tax plan that sent angry protesters into the streets. However, the protests claimed at least 17 victims who died during the unrest and hundreds more were injured.

Now that the president has withdrawn the controverial bill, many are wondering what’s next and will they have to take to the streets once again.

Massive protests claimed the lives of at least 17 people and hundreds more were injured across Colombia.

Unions and other groups kicked off marches on Wednesday to demand the government of President Ivan Duque withdraw a controversial tax plan that they say unfairly targets the most vulnerable Colombians.

Isolated vandalism, clashes between police and protesters and road blockades occurred in several cities on Saturday, and riot police were deployed in the capital.

Rights organization Human Rights Watch said it had received reports of possible police abuse in Cali, and local human rights groups alleged up to 17 deaths occurred.

After a week of protests, the government has shelved the controversial plan.

Faced with the unrest, the government of President Ivan Duque on Sunday ordered the proposal be withdrawn from Congress where it was being debated. In a televised statement, he said his government would work to produce new proposals and seek consensus with other parties and organizations.

President Duque, in his statement, acknowledged “it is a moment for the protection of the most vulnerable, an invitation to build and not to hate and destroy”.

“It is a moment for all of us to work together without paltriness,” he added. “A path of consensus, of clear perceptions. And it gives us the opportunity to say clearly that there will be no increase in VAT for goods and services.”

The tax reform had been heavily criticized for punishing the middle classes at a time of economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The government introduced the bill on April 15 as a means of financing public spending. The aim was to generate $6.3 billion between 2022 and 2031 to reignite the fourth largest economy in Latin America.

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After Being Kneeled On By Police, People Are Comparing This Latino Man’s Death to George Floyd

Things That Matter

After Being Kneeled On By Police, People Are Comparing This Latino Man’s Death to George Floyd

Photo via GoFundMe

Mario Gonzalez’s family is asking for answers after the 26-year-old Latino man died after a “scuffle” with the police. Because of the circumstances surrounding Gonzalez’s death, people are comparing his death to George Floyd’s.

Three Bay Area police officers kneeled on Gonzalez’s back and shoulders for five minutes before he became unresponsive and died. In a statement, the police said his death was caused by a “medical emergency.”

“Officers attempted to detain [Mario Gonzalez], and a physical altercation ensued,” the statement read. “At that time, the man had a medical emergency. Officers immediately began lifesaving measures and requested the Alameda Fire Department to the scene. The Alameda Fire Department transported the male to a local area hospital, where he later died.”

Mario Gonzalez was wandering around in a park, appearing disoriented and mumbling to himself when some bystanders called the police. “He seems like he’s tweaking, but he’s not doing anything wrong,” said the 911 caller. “He’s just scaring my wife.”

Gonzalez was unable to answer basic questions when police arrived at the scene. The interaction quickly escalated physically, with multiple officers wrestling him to the ground.

The Alameda Police Department released body cam footage that showed the entire interaction. “I’ve got to identify you, so I know who I’m talking to [and] make sure you don’t have any warrants or anything like that,” says one of the cops. “You come up with a plan, let me know you’re not going to be drinking in our parks over here, and then we can be on our merry way.”  

But Gonzalez could not–or would not–respond, at which point the cops attempted to handcuff him and wrestle him to the ground. Gonzalez resisted arrest, asking the police officers to stop while repeatedly and profusely apologizing. “I’m sorry,” Gonzalez says at one point, to which an officer responds: “It’s OK, alright? I forgive you.” Minutes later, he was dead.

“Everything we saw in that video was unnecessary and unprofessional,” said Mario’s brother, Gerardo Gonzalez, in a news conference. “The police killed my brother in the same manner that they killed George Floyd.”

“His death was completely avoidable and unnecessary,” said the Gonzalez’s attorney, Julia Sherwin, to The New York Times. “Drunk guy in a park doesn’t equal a capital sentence.” The three police officers involved in Gonzalez’s death are now on paid leave, according to AP News.

Police originally told the Gonzalez family that Mario died due to a “medical emergency” while in the custody of police. But after his family saw the video of his death, they realized the police had been stretching the truth. Mario Gonzalez was the father of a 4-year-old boy as well as the sole caretaker of his 23-year-old autistic brother.

The family has since set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to provide care and living expenses to Mario’s brother and son.

“Mario was not a violent person. Mario was kind. He helped my mom take care of our brother. He wouldn’t hurt anyone. Our family needs answers,” reads the campaign.

To many, Mario Gonzalez’s death further illustrates their belief that police officers should not be the ones responding to calls about people struggling with mental health or addiction crises.

“What happened to Mario Gonzalez should be a wake-up call to the city of Alameda,” said former Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell to KPIX 5 News. “You can’t have officers responding to people who are not aggressive, not threatening who are going through a mental health crisis.”

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Interview: Colombian Duo Cali y El Dandee Talk New Single “Despiértate”, Winning Grammy For Producer of the Year and More

Latidomusic

Interview: Colombian Duo Cali y El Dandee Talk New Single “Despiértate”, Winning Grammy For Producer of the Year and More

Universal Music Latin

Fresh off their performance at the Latin American Music Awards, Colombian sibling pop duo Cali y El Dandee are back for more with their new single “Despiérate.”

In our exclusive interview with Latido Music by mitú, Cali, born Alejandro Rengifo, and Dandee, born Mauricio Rengifo, shared their excitement over their new collaboration, how they started working in music. Dandee aka Mauricio winning the Producer of the Year award at the Latin GRAMMYs, and more.

“Despiértate” is their new collab with Venezuelan sibling duo Mau y Ricky and Puerto Rican singer Guaynaa.

The collaboration had been something the brothers wanted to do for a very long time. The creative process for the song started with Cali y El Dandee and Mau y Ricky in the studio working on half of “Despiértate” and loving the sound so far. But they realized they were missing something.

“We loved the fresh sound of the song and how the synergy we achieved with them (Mau y Ricky) and then we invited Guaynaa, who gave it an Urban spin and the Puerto Rican touch the song needed,” added Dandee.

They started writing and producing music while they were in school.

Their very first “studio” was just a desktop computer and a microphone they had back home. Dandee was always interested in production, and as their music evolved they started showing their friends what they were working on. Both of their stage names come from their childhood nicknames: Cali, for Alejandro and Dandee for Mauricio.

Going viral and building fanbases in places like Spain and Argentina.

While Cali y El Dandee had a solid fanbase in their native Colombia, they were not aware that their music was making waves in places like Spain in the early days of streaming around 2009-2010, when their music videos were first being shared online.

“Actually, it took us a while to realize that we were popular in Spain because our team would let us know about our music sales rising, but we had never been there before or knew anyone there from their local radio stations. When we finally went to Spain, it was a big shock, we realized that our music had an audience not only there, but also in places like Mexico, Argentina and it was truly exciting to see that,” Dandee said.

Cali y El Dandee credit Reggaeton for embracing this new wave of collaborations among artists.

Cali y El Dandee aren’t strangers to collaborations. The pair have worked with Danna Paola, Greeicy, Sebastián Yatra, and Reik to name a few.

When it comes to creating these collaborations, Cali shared that either they already have someone in mind that they think could be a good fit as they create the first drafts of the song in the studio, or they meet up with artists and create the collaborations from scratch.

“The collaborations have played a very important role for us and have allowed us to refine and change our sound, and I think that for Urban music, collaborations are what have made this genre last so long, and why it’s heard in so many languages and how the streams nowadays come from different countries,” Cali added.

Dandee (Mauricio) talked about winning Producer of The Year at this year’s Latin GRAMMYs.

“It was a moment I had been waiting for since I was a child, a dream come true”, Dandee shared. While Mauricio is aware that there are other producers who are doing an equal or better job than him, he takes this as an opportunity to keep working hard.

“I remember so many times watching the Grammys thinking to myself ‘one day I’ll win one,’ and using that as a fuel to know that one day you’ll be on that stage as well,” Dandee added.

Their latest album Colegio is a nostalgic homage to school days.

I asked the brothers if there’s something from their school days that they would bring back.

“Renting movies at Blockbuster,” Dandee shared. “That moment when you’d go on a Friday night to rent a movie and you had the weekend to watch it. Next thing you know, you’d rewatch the movie like 2-3 times because you had to return it. It’s unheard of now to rewatch a movie within a matter of days,” Cali added.

However, there’s one thing both brothers would definitely bring back:

“More than anything, we would want to bring back concerts, and seeing people interact with the music live,” Cali said.

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