the guardian

Cali is the cockpit of chaos as Colombia protests threaten to spiral out of control

Published in The Guardian

With Katherine Aguirre

On a recent evening, Andrés pulled on his gas mask and helmet and headed for the barricades at the entrance to his rundown neighbourhood in Cali, a city which has become the center of Colombia’s anti-government protests.

But as he approached the roadblock of rocks, rubble and barbed wire, he saw a motorcycle speeding towards him. In an attempt to turn the vehicle back, another demonstrator shone a laser pen in the driver’s eyes.

“Armed civilians fighting against each other is one of the most serious manifestations of the crisis so far,” said Katherine Aguirre, a security expert at the Igarape Institute in Cali. “The state needs to find innovative ways to solve the crisis, both maintaining public order while pursuing dialogue at the local level.”

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