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South Florida Expats Divided Over Causes Of Colombia Chaos And Police Response

Andres Gonzalez
A Colombian police officer throws a stun grenade at protesters this week in Cali.

Some expats blame the conservative government for the dozens of deaths in Colombia's unrest this week; others accuse a shadowy global leftist "movement."

Colombia’s violent social unrest is entering its second week — and South Florida’s large Colombian expat community is as divided over the turmoil as people there are.

At least 25 people have been killed in protests and riots since last week in some of Colombia’s largest cities, including Bogotá and Cali.

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The reasons for the upheaval are economic: The pandemic has sunk businesses and jobs.

President Iván Duque’s tax plan for addressing that pain was rejected as unfair to ordinary Colombians — who also feel the country’s economic inequality, among the worst in Latin America, is still being ignored.

Duque has now withdrawn the tax plan, but protesters are still leading a national strike.

More liberal expat groups support the protesters. The Colombian Progressives Miami group said, in a statement, its “outraged at the disproportionate use of force” by Colombian police.

The group will hold a rally for the protesters in Miami’s Bayfront Park Saturday morning at 11:30.

Conservative expats like Weston businessman Fabio Andrade of the Americas Community Center blame Colombia’s former Marxist guerrillas, the FARC.

Andrade says the FARC and an “international leftist movement” are responsible for inciting the unrest. But so far there’s no evidence of that.