On Wednesday September 10th, after unarmed lawyer Javier Ordoñez was murdered by police, protesters took to the streets in cities across Colombia calling for an end to police brutality. Some protesters targeted police stations around the city symbolically burning the buildings. The ESMAD (anti-riot police) along with members of the National Police responded to these manifestations with violence. Members of the National Police opened fire into crowds of protesters killing at least five civilians and injuring 80 more, according to local reports. Created with US funding in 1999 the ESMAD is notorious for beating and even killing unarmed protesters.
These manifestations of police violence in Colombia echo the police violence and repression of protests that have occupied US headlines the past few months. The similarities we see with State-supported violence across the Americas highlights both the impact of US exported militarization and repressive police tactics and the need for a new transnational model of community care.
The US has long used Latin America as a training ground for its militarized policies in efforts to silence reforms and we continue to see the impacts. While US protesters continue to call to defund the police in the US, we have simultaneously seen a rise in US gun exports abroad, including exports to Colombia. The transnational model of militarized control the US propagates both at home and abroad has not yet ended and continues to have deadly consequences.