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17 Sep 2020 | 01:22 PM UTC

Colombia: Protesters topple conquistador statue during demonstration in Popayán (Cauca department) September 16

Colombia News Alert

Indigenous protesters topple conquistador statue in Popayán (Cauca department) on September 16; further protests possible in the near term

TIMEFRAME expected from 9/17/2020, 12:00 AM until 9/19/2020, 11:59 PM (America/Bogota). COUNTRY/REGION Popayan

Event

Indigenous protesters toppled a statue of a conquistador in Popayán (Cauca department) on Wednesday, September 16. Members of the Misak community used ropes to down the statue of Sebastián de Belalcázar on the Morro de Tulcán. The protest coincided with widespread protests against police brutality across Colombia on Wednesday, and the toppling of the statue has been linked to recent incidents in the US and elsewhere across the world involving colonial statues during Black Lives Matter protests. Further protests are likely in Popayán and across Colombia in the near term.

A heightened security presence and localized transport disruptions are likely in the vicinity of any protests, and clashes between demonstrators and security forces cannot be ruled out.

Context

De Belalcázar led expeditions into parts of South America, including Ecuador, in the 1500s and founded Popayán in 1537. The Misak community believe that he represents five centuries of genocide, slavery, and land -grabbing.

The incident in Popayán coincided with nationwide protests called for across Colombia on Wednesday to denounce the excessive use of force by security forces following the death of law student Javier Ordonez. Ordonez died after being tasered and forcibly subdued by police officers whilst being arrested for alleged breaches of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in Bogotá on September 8. Although the Bogotá Metropolitan Police Department has expressed regrets over the death and suspended two of the officers involved pending an investigation, video footage showing officers subduing Ordonez has been widely shared on social media in the country and drawn significant condemnation.

Advice

Those in Popayán are advised to closely monitor developments, avoid all protests and large public gatherings as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.

 

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