Members of the indigenous population in Cauca and Valle del Cauca departments continued to block major highways in the area through Thursday, March 21. Protesters have erected barricades along the Pan-American highway over the past ten days, at times resulting in clashes with security forces. At least one police officer has been killed during the protests. Travel between the tourist areas of San Agustin and Popayán has been particularly affected. On March 21, an explosion was reported in the Dagua area of Valle del Cauca department, resulting in at least nine fatalities and up to 15 people injured. Regional officials initially reported the blast occurred at a mine; however, the mayor of Dagua claims there is no mining in the area and the blast was at a farm on an indigenous reservation. Authorities have been unable to investigate the incident due to the local community preventing security personnel from entering the area. Details are still emerging.
Roadblocks and protests are expected to continue in the coming days. A heightened security presence and localized transportation disruptions are possible near any demonstration sites. Further clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
Multiple indigenous civil society groups started demonstrations in Cauca department on March 13 to protest land disputes. At least 16 people have been wounded during attempts by security forces to clear roadblocks along National Route 25. Protesters also reportedly attacked humanitarian workers on March 15, prompting a local aid agency to suspend operations in Cauca department.
Individuals in Cauca and Valle del Cauca departments are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all gatherings and protests due to potential violence, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
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