Rest of Asia

Colombia's foreign minister resigns amid condemnation of police action

Filed on May 13, 2021
Colombian Foreign Minister Claudia Blum resigned amid international condemnation for the abuses committed by public forces. Photo: AFP

Claudia Blum did not specify the reasons for her departure.

Colombia's foreign minister has resigned amid international condemnation of excessive force used by law enforcers against civilians engaged in anti-government protests since April 28.

Claudia Blum, in a letter to President Ivan Duque signed on May 11 but made available by her office Thursday, did not specify the reasons for her departure.

"I am sure that... the country will continue on the path of sustainable development, social and economic recovery from the effects of the pandemic, and consolidation of the consensus that confirms the unity and strength of our nation," she wrote.

Local media and opposition parties said Blum's resignation was inevitable given the reputational damage caused by a police clampdown condemned by the UN, United States, European Union and international rights groups.

Clashes between police and protesters have resulted in at least 42 deaths -- including one police officer -- and more than 1,500 injuries to date, according to official figures.

NGOs say the number is higher.

Blum is the second minister to resign from President Ivan Duque's government.

Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla, an author of the tax reform bill that ignited the protests, stepped down on May 3.

The tax reform bill has since been withdrawn, but demonstrations have continued, morphing into broader anti-government protests in a country battling ongoing violence and economic hardship made worse by the coronavirus epidemic.

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