Colombia: more ESMAD terror

On March 8, students at the National University of Bogota held a protest against the Colombian government’s Feb. 27 signing of the Andean Free Trade Treaty with the US, Peru and Ecuador. Agents from the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD), a unit of the National Police, attacked the students at close range with tear gas grenades and rubber bullets. Oscar Leonardo Salas, a 20-year-old linguistics student from the Francisco Jose de Caldas District University in Bogota, was hit in the face by either a tear gas grenade or a rubber bullet which apparently passed through his eye and lodged in his brain. Salas was taken to a local clinic, but doctors were unable to save him; he was pronounced brain dead and disconnected from artificial life support early the next morning. Hundreds of students marched on March 9 in Bogota to protest Salas’ death and to demand the immediate dismantling of the ESMAD. (El Turbion, March 9; Asociacion Colombiana de Estudiantes Universitarios [ACEU], March 9)

Salas is the third student protester to be killed by ESMAD in less than a year: last Sept. 22 in Cali, ESMAD agents killed chemistry student Jhony Silva Aranjuren of Del Valle University by shooting him in the neck at a protest; and ESMAD agents beat 15-year-old high school student Nicolas Neira Alvarez to death during an International Workers Day march in Bogota on May 1, 2005

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 12

See our last posts on Colombia and ESMAD.