Things That Matter

Dilan Cruz Becomes A Symbol Of Colombia’s Protest Movement After He Was Shot Dead By Police

As Colombians keep protesting the government of Ivan Duque, tensions are mounting due to the increasingly aggressive tactics being used by the police. The political climate in South America is extremely polirized at the moment, with waves of protests turning violent in Chile, Bolivia and now Colombia, where the Duque government is facing stern challenges that have led to unprecedented measures such as a curfew in the capital city of Bogota.

 Duque has at least admitted that the country has to enter a “national conversation”. But, at the same time, the conservative president has called for the “deployment of joint patrols of police and army in the most critical places”. Protesters argue that you can’t have both: you either enter a conversation or deploy the full force of the State. Multiple injuries and deaths have been reported. But the recent death of one Dilan Cruz is a momentum shifting event. 

The anti-government protests are being led by unions and student groups.

Credit: RCN Radio

Tens of thousands of protesters have flooded the streets of Bogota for the past week. According to DW, anti-government protests “are centered on discontent with Duque’s conservative government — a key ally of the United States, rumors of economic reforms, and what protesters say is a lack of government action to stop corruption and the murder of human rights activists”. Colombia has traditionally been a very divided country when it comes to the right/left ideological divide. The protests might have righteous motives, but is is hard to contain a movement.

As Reuters reports: “Marches have attracted thousands of peaceful demonstrators, but last Thursday and Friday were also marred by the destruction of mass transit stations, the use of tear gas, curfews in Cali and Bogota and the deaths of three people in connection with alleged looting”. Things might be getting worse before they get better as negotiations have been slow and sterile.

As CE Noticias Financieras reports: “Talks between the National Paro Committee and the government are stalled because unions demand exclusive negotiation and refuse to be part of a dialogue with employers and guilds that Duque convened as part of a “Great Conversation National””. 

A protester called Dilan Cruz has died after being hit with a police projectile.

As the protests led a fifth day on November 26, an activist lay in agony after being hit with a police missile. The protests intensified then, and have reached new proportions after Cruz died. Police tactics have been judged as way too harsh and disproportionate to the nature of the demonstrations. For example, the authorities used tear gas to disperse a crowd while the national anthem was being sung in front of the central bank headquarters. 

Remember his name: Dilan Cruz. He has become a symbol of the protest movement in Colombia.

Dilan Cruz grabbed a tear gas canister and threw it back at the police. Seconds later a shot was heard and he lay on the ground amidst screams from fellow protesters. He spent two days in hospital but died from the bullet he received in the head, according to reports from BBC. Dilan was only 18-years-old and had graduated from high school in the public institution Colegio Ricaurte the same day on which he died (talk about a cruel twist of fate). There have been dozens of reports of police brutality during these tense days in Colombia, but Dilan has become the flag of the movement. 

“Dilan vive, Dilan vive” is the new protest battle cry… 

Dilan’s classmates led protests towards the hospital where he died. With cries of “Dilan lives, Dilan lives” they denounced the human rights violations that activists have been subject to before and during the protests. On the corner of 19 and 4, which is generally a chaotic area of the capital city, there are memorials including candles, posters and graffiti. Dilan’s death also lead to a national strike. 

President Duque has extended his condolences… yes, really.

The president tweeted a message to the victim’s mother, grandfather and sisters. He also promised that an investigation would be launched to clarify the incident. However, some conservative voices have already started victim blaming, saying that since Dilan was a minor he should have been at home, and that the blame lays with his parents. 

Dilan will live forever as an icon of the protest movements.

Credit: somos_ugc / Instagram

Every movement or revolution has an icon. Dilan Cruz has become a martyr and his name will always be associated with social struggle and a watershed moment in which violence escalated and the world started to turn its eyes to 2019 Colombia and its many injustices, but also its voices of hope. 

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