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Solidarity Protest for Colombia Brightens Portland Waterfront

Attendees sought to draw attention to violence against protesters in Bogotá.

More than 100 Portlanders gathered in Tom McCall Waterfront Park at 5 pm on Saturday, May 8, to march in solidarity with the ongoing unrest in Bogotá, Colombia. “Se vive, se siente, Colombia está presente,” they chanted together. Translated to English, the phrase means “It’s alive, it feels, Colombia is here.”

The daytime demonstration was advertised as a peaceful rally—a contrast with Portland’s own unrest, in which masked marchers sporadically break windows and sometimes set fires to demand police abolition. This event drew members of the local Colombian community and served as a reminder of far greater violence unleashed on dissenting people in the South American nation.

With days of consecutive unrest in Colombia’s capital of Bogotá now reaching double digits, the world has begun to take notice of the brutal tactics Colombia’s police are using against their own people—which have included tanks rolling down city streets and use of live ammunition.

“Dozens of people have died, with hundreds injured,” one of the Portland organizers, Valentina Castellanos, said. She spoke in Pioneer Square, where the protest concluded with dancing and words from other members of the crowd.

Organizers conducted most of the march in Spanish. Those assembled wore bright yellow or the primary color stripes of the Colombian flag, and extended their cultural pride to their pets too, with the globally approved practice of dressing dogs in tiny hats and sports jerseys.

Their voices filled the busy downtown streets with the lyrics of “Duque Ciao,” a new version of the old Italian protest song “Bella Ciao,” that the demonstrators in Colombia have been singing during their ongoing protests against poverty and inequality. The Colombian version bids “goodbye” to the current President of Colombia Iván Duque Márquez.

“We who are outside Colombia have a responsibility,” another member of the crowd said. “We need to amplify the news for the people there.”