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Police detain a man during an anti-government protest in Bogota, Colombia, Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The protests that began last week over a tax reform proposal continue despite President Ivan Duque’s withdrawal of the tax plan on Sunday, May 2. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Reader George D. writes . . .

I am a naturalized U.S. citizen, originally born in Colombia. My family fled Colombia for the promise of America and I am so grateful for what my mother gave me through the sacrifices she made to get me here. I served in the Marine Corps during Operation Iraqi Freedom and I am proud to have given back to the nation that has given me so much.

In recent weeks my family here has been in communication with family back in Colombia. The situation is dire. Roads are blocked, banks do not have currency to issue, and supplies are quickly being depleted due to civil unrest. All you need to do is search social media for #ColombiaAlertaRoja to get a first hand view of what is happening, but be warned, some of the videos and images are graphic.

Right now, today, Colombia is burning at the hands of its government. People are being killed for protesting against the government and for attempting to voice their grievances. Hundreds have been injured, dozens have been killed by the government. For a full explanation of what is happening there you can cite this piece.

A man looks into a police post damaged by protesters the previous night in Bogota, Colombia, Wednesday, May 5, 2021. Protests that began last week over a tax reform proposal continue despite President Ivan Duque’s withdrawal of the tax plan from congress on Sunday, May 2. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Why should this matter to us here in the U.S.? Because Colombia isn’t some attempted socialist utopia like its neighbor, Venezuela. It’s not a communist stronghold like China. It was a thriving, peaceful democracy which had made great strides in the past twenty years towards strong freedoms. More importantly, this thriving democracy – and strong U.S. ally – is in our backyard.

While Colombians don’t enjoy the benefits of the Second Amendment, they are permitted to own small arms. The government, however, highly regulates gun ownership and all guns must be registered with the Colombian military, which has a monopoly in Colombia on the sale of firearms and issues all gun permits.

The people are angry at excessive taxation and government corruption. The protests initially had the effect of forcing the government to withdraw a controversial tax plan that sparked the protests.

An anti-government demonstrator in skates jumps over a fire during a protest in Bogota, Colombia, Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The protests that began last week over a tax reform proposal continue despite President Ivan Duque’s withdrawal of the tax plan on Sunday, May 2. (AP Photo/Ivan Valencia)

However, that was quickly followed by violence. The internet has been shut down in some areas and police are shooting people. As the situation is still developing, it is impossible to determine exactly who is responsible for all of the violence. But one thing is clear: the government is not protecting its citizens and Colombians have huge hurdles to overcome to acquire the means to protect themselves.

Does this narrative sound familiar? Grievances against the government, corruption at the highest levels of government, protests against government unfairness. These are all things that most democracies deal with, but look how quickly Colombia has descended into anarchy.

Colombia is a cautionary tale to every citizen of a free society. Our democracy has provided us with such a high degree of freedom and independence that we have forgotten what the founding fathers understood they were creating, “a republic, if you can keep it.”

Share the news about what is happening. Start discussions with people about the importance of self-reliance. Colombia seemingly collapsed overnight and what is happening there can happen in any democracy.

Thomas Jefferson said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Unfortunately for Colombians the tree is being refreshed by too many patriots and not enough tyrants.

 





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