BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Protests have rocked Colombia for a month, and thousands of people continue to pour into the streets of its major cities, with demonstrators blocking major roads and the police responding at times with lethal force. At least 46 people, many of them protesters, have died.
On Friday, President Iván Duque said he would send a “maximum deployment” of military troops to Cali, a city that has been one of the focal points of the protests, “as a measure to protect citizen rights.”
“Islands of anarchy cannot exist in our country,” he said in a video address. “We must always maintain a spirit of understanding the clamor of citizens, of interpreting it and listening to it — but never because of violence.”
The decision drew immediate criticism from some human rights groups, who have denounced Colombian authorities’ use of force against protesters.
Interviews and video analysis by The New York Times show that police officers have fired bullets at peaceful protesters, beaten demonstrators in custody and fired tear gas canisters or other forms of “less-lethal” ammunition at people from close range.
On Saturday, the Americas director for Human Rights Watch, José Miguel Vivanco, said the deployment order signed by Mr. Duque contained a “dangerous void.”
“The orders issued do not include any explicit reference to prioritizing dialogue, avoiding excessive force and respecting human rights,” he said on Twitter.
Mr. Duque’s announcement comes as the Colombian government is negotiating with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which has requested a visit
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