By Adriaan Alsema – Columbia Reports
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “applauded” Colombia’s President Ivan Duque‘s response to anti-government protests on Monday despite mass reports of human rights violations.
Pompeo made the controversial statement during a visit to the South American country where he will attend a regional anti-terrorism summit and meet with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.
During a joint press conference with Duque, Pompeo said “we applaud the way Colombia responded to the demonstrations, with professionalism, respect for human dignity and calling for national dialogue.”
Our commitment is to respect human rights and the rule of law. We applaud the way Colombia responded to the demonstrations, with professionalism, respect for human dignity, calling for national dialogue.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Authorities’ attempts to violently suppress the largely peaceful protests killed at least three people and injured hundreds.
According to the Committee for Political Prisoners, more than 1,000 peaceful protesters were unlawfully arrested.
The Foundation of the Freedom of Press FLIP additionally additionally reported the unlawful arrest of dozens of journalists trying to cover the protests, claiming “no similar situation has occurred in FLIP’s recent records.”
As the protests began in November, US ambassador Philip Goldberg was among the first to defend the peaceful nature of the protesters, countering the Colombian president’s attempts to stigmatize them as “vandals.”
The international pressure helped curb the human rights violations and the protests proceeded peacefully.
Days later, however, Pompeo endorsed Duque after which police violence against peaceful protests spiked again.
The United Nations Human Rights Office is expected to release its annual report on Colombia in February, in which it reportedly will say that the police “would have violated international norms and standards relating to the use of force” during the protests.