Lunes, 06 de mayo, 2024

Artists from Cali and Colombia’s Pacific region collaborated on the track Pum! Cayó [Bam! They Dropped]which was released on Sunday, April 28th to mark the third anniversary of the mass protests of the 2021 National Strike, in which the National Police shot and killed at least three people and committed sexual and gender violence against 28, as recorded by Amnesty International, and leftover 100 with eye injuries, as documented by the NGO Temblores. Today a group of artists has joined forces with the label We Could Be Music and Amnesty International to call for justice for victims, as well as for a comprehensive police reform to ensure abuses like these never happen again.

Pum! Cayó – Afro Legends, El Gioh, Caro Mosquera & TimbiÁfrica

On 28 April, Colombians commemorated three years since the beginning of the 2021 National Strike, also known as the Estallido Social, which had its epicenter in the city of Cali. At the time, Amnesty International and many other civil society organizations, the Ombudsman’s Office, and even international bodies like the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, warned of serious violations of protesters’ rights committed by the National Police during these demonstrations.

Ana Piquer, Amnesty International’s Americas director, said: “It comes as a shock that three years after the mass demonstrations, which were brutally repressed by security forces, the Colombian authorities have stopped talking about the issue. Some protesters were killed, while others lost their eyes or were sexually abused. Three years on, many of these injustices remain unpunished, and some who have reported the abuses have even been threatened and had to flee the country. How is it possible that a police reform that ensures that these events never happen again is not part of today’s political agenda?”

It comes as a shock that three years after the mass demonstrations, which were brutally repressed by security forces, the Colombian authorities have stopped talking about the issue. Some protesters were killed, while others lost their eyes or were sexually abused.

Ana Piquer, Americas Director at Amnesty International

The song “Pum! Cayó, a collaboration between the Afro Legends trio, Carolina Mosquera, and El Gioh, was released to memorialize the victims of this violent repression. This group of artists from Cali and the Colombian Pacific region channels the spirit of thousands of protesters, who took to the streets to demand equality and dignity and an end to exclusion and structural racism, but were met with violence from the state.

The song, available on streaming platforms, is produced by the non-profit record label We Could Be Music and is part of Amnesty International’s campaign for Colombia Repression in the Spotlight, which in turn fits within the global Protect the Protest campaign to defend the right to public assembly and expression in countries on every continent.

On Pum! Cayó, the actual victims of police repression speak out. El Gioh, an urban music singer and songwriter from the city of Cali, was blinded in one eye during the 2021 protests when the riot police shot a tear gas canister that hit him in the face.

Also on the track is Carolina Mosquera, a Cali artist and composer and director of the group TimbiÁfrica, a band that brings together rhythms like currulao, soukous, reggae, R&B and hip hop.

The song features another emblematic group from the Colombia’s Pacific region: the trio Afro Legends, who won the first Rompe Colombia contest and recently played the Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024.

The video for the song was recorded in symbolically important spots from the 2021 Estallido Social in Cali, such as Puerto Resistencia (formerly Puerto Rellena), Paso de la Luna, and Loma de la Cruz, which is also known as Loma de la Dignidad. These places are emblematic because of both the powerful protests and police repression and abuse that happened there.

Grave abuses: the police repression of the 2021 National Strike

During the 2021 National Strike, Amnesty International documented cases where police used firearms (including long guns) against protesters, resulting in at least three deaths, as was the case in its “Operation Siloé.” The police stood by as armed civilians fired on Indigenous protesters, injuring at least 10. They also unlawfully detained and beat young demonstrators. According to the GRITA platform of the NGO Temblores, over 100 people suffered eye injuries from “less-lethal weapons” fired by the police, and Amnesty International documented at least 28 cases of gender-based violence, including sexual abuse of protesters by police officers.

In March 2023, more than 20 Colombian civil society organizations that make up the Police Reform Roundtable [Mesa por la Reforma Policial] partnered with Amnesty International to submit a set of Proposals for Comprehensive Police Reform. Although the National Police has been in the process of an internal reform since late 2020, which has included steps like changing the name of ESMAD (Mobile Anti-Riot Squad) to UNDMO (Unit for Dialogue and Maintaining Order), many of the Roundtable organizations have claimed that this process has been perfunctory and would require broad input from civil society to be comprehensive.

Meanwhile, the victims of the 2021 police violence continue to await justice, as do the social organizations that are giving them support, including the NOMADESC Association and La Manada Feminista de los Derechos Humanos de Cali, which also had a hand in creating the concept for Pum! Cayó.

With this song release, Amnesty International is spotlighting an open petition to urge the Gustavo Petro administration to carry out a comprehensive and participatory police reform.

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