The fallout continues from last week's clash between Colombian police and community residents in Tumaco, one of the poorest areas of the country, which has long been a hub for coca cultivation (see Friday's brief). While Colombia has frequently registered clashes between police-led coca eradication teams and communities that usually receive little to no state services, last week's confrontation was unusually violent.
La Silla Vacia found that both the security forces and the community members protesting police presence included false or misleading details in their accounts of what happened, after security forces began firing indiscriminately upon protestors (estimates for the number of dead and wounded vary widely, with Colombia's National Forensics Institute reporting six dead). Farmers in the region say that they are open to coca eradication and crop substitution efforts, but they want the government to prioritize previously shelved plans for infrastructure and development initiatives, reports Verdad Abierta.
International organizations and representatives -- including the head of the UN Special Mission in Colombia and representatives from the UK parliament -- rebuked Colombia for the violence. The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) called on the U.S. government to "cease its aggressive demands for forced coca eradication, which places unnecessary pressure on Colombia’s security forces and could bring about more tragedies resembling what just happened in Tumaco."
Semana reported that an international team of journalists, NGO representatives, and others who attempted to enter the community on Sunday were fired upon by police. Colombia's National Police have suspended four officers involved in the incident.
--- Elyssa Pachico