“They are killing us in Colombia,” cried Lucas Villa, 37, in several videos circulating on social networks, as well as others in which he appears in demonstrations or on open-air wheels in which he explains the points problems of the tax reform that the Colombian government wants to implement. This is the bill that began to transform Colombia on the 28th.
At 37, Lucas Villa is studying sports science at Pereira. His friends describe him as happy, peaceful, outgoing and partying. The day he was hit, the last message he sent to friends via his cell phone was “Now in Colombia, being young and being on the streets is life threatening.” We can all die here, but how can we not go out and protest? “.
On May 5, Lucas was shot eight times, mostly in the head area. Taken to the hospital, his last health report indicates that “he is in a very serious state of health”. Already moved by the news of the violence of the protests, which has already claimed 47 lives, according to Indepaz, Colombian society is now following Lucas Villa’s fight for life as a tragic novel. His medical reports are national news, showbiz stars have offered help to his family, such as plane tickets so that she can be with him, and his bearded image, with his hand raised, has become a graffiti running through Colombian streets, becoming a symbol of these protests.
President Iván Duque, through his social networks, lamented what happened: “We condemn what happened in Pereira with the young Lucas Villa and his companions as they walked peacefully on the viaduct”.
The case of the activist is an example of the war of narratives that is at stake in the country. On the one hand, those who defend the demonstrators and say that all the violence is generated by the security forces who repress them, in particular the ESMAD, the dreaded police shock battalion, which in Colombia is military. On the other, there is Duke’s version that, yes, the protests in general are peaceful but that it is not the officers who kill the militants, but groups of vandals among them, who cause damage to property. and shoot civilians for the state. to be guilty.
The fact that ex-President Álvaro Uribe posted a post supporting the use of force against protesters (later taken off the air by Twitter himself) does not help support the version of Iván Duque, his godfather. Politics. But he himself has defended the discovery and condemnation of who the feared “vandals” are, pointing out that the unrest has grown in strength and violence when they act together. The protesters, who spoke out against Duque’s tax reform for the first time, are now leaving because they believe it is Duke who is, in fact, behind the excesses, such as shooting a single activist with eight hits to the head.
Bogota Mayor Claudia López, who takes a stand against ESMAD’s action in the capital, called for people in general to calm down and for inquiries from all sides to find out who was responsible for the murder . “We have to recognize that there has been abuse from one side to the other. If we just reject vandalism, but the abuse of force is not recognized, there is no way to start a dialogue, ”he said.
The case is that any political stance right now, in which Duke is 33% popular and is just over a year away from his tenure, is mistaken for election acts. López is a pre-candidate who wants to convince the voters of the center and the center-left, therefore the decision to throw cold rags and not to point against anyone in particular.
Uribe and Duque, who cannot stand but want to be made heirs via the Democratic Center, favor the version of the “vandals”, because they identify there “enemies of the country”, or “Castroists”, as the expression created by the first, which would be associated with the left. And in the middle of it all is Gustavo Petro, another pre-candidate who lost the second round in the 2018 election, but appears to be a favorite in the next election. A former M-19 guerrilla who was the mayor of Bogotá, Petro follows the fine line of attacking the brutality of the Duke police and at the same time not identifying with vandalism and condemning attacks, for example, against the police. and fires in public buildings. .
Protests in Colombia are no longer just due to tax reform. But because of complaints that were already on the streets during the 2019 protests, which took place in several cities across the country. They were asked to have access to health and education, for more security, for the implementation of the peace agreement signed with the FARC in 2016 which, left as is, saw the settlements fall apart. turn into massacres inside. What’s different about the 2019 requirements is that all of these issues are more serious now, due to the impact of the pandemic on the economy, poverty and inequality.
At the time, there was a young martyr, Dilan Cruz, 18, killed by the police. For now, the image of Lucas Villa, 37, still fighting for his life, is one that reflects the current drama.