Colombian Democracy in the Streets

Vivian Newman*

Although protests in Colombia have been increasing since the 1990s, they have grown noticeably following the signing of the peace agreements in 2016. Until then —with few exceptions— protest marches were stigmatized as infiltrated by guerrillas, limiting them to union members, public university students, LGBTI people, and informal workers, excluding other minorities with legitimate claims and an immense apathetic society. A significant part of Colombian society has now demonstrated an increased public expression of its discontent. The government, disconnected from the streets, has failed to understand and manage the new democracy.

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Social Protest: A Misunderstood Right

Relevant Aspects of the IACHR Report “Protest and Human Rights”

Javier A. de Belaunde*

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the IACHR published its report “Protest and Human Rights” in December 2019. It appears timely when massive demonstrations are being held in the streets and squares across the region. The reasons behind the demonstrations vary, but the response of most governments is common: repression and human rights abuses. Peaceful protest remains a misunderstood right. This report aims to correct this situation by defining the inter-American standards applicable to protest and denouncing the criminalization of protest as an anti-human rights process.

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