Colombia: police attack march for Lebanon

On Aug. 3, some 600 demonstrators, including many people of Palestinian and Lebanese descent, marched in Bogota to protest Israel’s military aggression against Lebanon. The march was called by the Platform of Colombians in Solidarity with Palestine and Lebanon, a coalition of leftist parties and labor and grassroots organizations. When the marchers arrived at the Israeli embassy, an officer of the diplomatic police in charge of security for the building ordered two of his agents to take down a demonstrator who was trying to spray-paint “Free Palestine and Lebanon” on the building facade. A brief clash ensued, and after it had ended a group of mounted riot police from the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) arrived with a tank and attacked demonstrators with tear gas and water cannons.

The march then dissolved into a confrontation; protesters responded with sticks and rocks to the police assault. Police reinforcements arrived, and the agents pursued protesters down side streets. Three people were arrested, including a Palestinian and Gloria Cuartas; both were released an hour later. Cuartas is the former mayor of Apartado (Antioquia department) and a former senatorial candidate for the leftist Democratic Pole. (Periodico El Turbion-MODEP, Aug. 3, posted on Colombia Indymedia, Aug. 10)

On Aug. 8, thousands of people, including many of Lebanese descent, marched in Quito, Ecuador, to protest Israel’s attacks on Lebanon. Carrying the flags of Ecuador, Palestine and Lebanon, marchers headed to the United Nations office, where march organizers handed in a call for peace in the Middle East after reading it aloud to the crowd. The UN representative in Ecuador promised to deliver the message to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Lebanon’s consul in Quito, Assaad Zard, thanked the demonstrators for their support. (Ecuadorinmediato, Aug. 8)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Aug. 13

See our last posts on Colombia, ESMAD brutality, Ecuador, the Lebanon crisis and Latin American solidarity with Lebanon.