A poignant demonstration was held on College Green on Sunday, May 9th, to show solidarity with protesters in Colombia.
The demonstration, organized by trade union coalition Justice for Colombia and Colombian community groups in Bristol, coincided with similar demonstrations in Exeter and Brighton, and followed others in London over the last two weeks.
Organisers hope that the demonstrations will raise awareness about the situation in Colombia, which has seen extensive protests since April 28th in response to tax reforms, government corruption, failure to implement the FARC peace agreement, and the government’s response to the Covid pandemic.
The protests have been met by deadly police force, with the Justice for Colombia website reporting at least 18 dead. Other estimates put the number at twice this.
One of the organisers of the Bristol demonstration said that she had never seen anything like what Colombia is now facing. Although Colombia has had civil strife in the past, the combination of issues today means that ‘this is something that affects everyone’.
The demonstration on College Green blended the sombre with the colourful. A performance by a dance troupe was followed by the reading of a list of 18 people killed by police in Colombia, and then a minute’s silence.
Then the atmosphere became more carnivalesque, with more dancing, live music, and face-painting.
Around 200 people were gathered at the height of the demonstration, with many passers-by attracted by the colours and sounds.
The organisers of the Bristol demonstration call on Bristolians to write to their MPs and ask that they raise this issue in parliament, especially as Colombian police have reportedly been trained by the UK College of Policing.