The exiles in Miami present solidarity with the Colombians.

MIAMI – Exiles from Cuba and Venezuela showed solidarity with Colombian Americans during a meeting on Friday at Brigade 2506 Bay of Pigs Museum in Miami.

Orlando Gutiérrez Boronat of the Cuban Democratic Directorate told the group that socialists and communists from Cuba and Venezuela are playing a role in the ongoing unrest in Colombia.

“It is attacked in what is known as hybrid warfare, a political front, a guerrilla front in the mountains and now this urban guerrilla that developed it,” Gutiérrez Boronat said.

Amid the deadly street protests in Colombia’s major cities, the country’s foreign ministry announced the expulsion of a socialist Cuban diplomat. The communist island has always had ties to the left-wing guerrilla movements of Colombia.

Police in riot gear work to clear the streets in Gachancipa, Colombia, Friday. (AP Photo / Ivan Valencia) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Cuba played the role of mediator in the 2016 agreement that led to the disarmament of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Many of the fighters are now part of the Colombian Communist Political Party. Cuba also granted asylum to members of the National Liberation Army (ELN).

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Colombia has remained a close ally of the United States under Conservative presidents. Ernesto Ackerman, an independent Venezuelan American citizen, has warned that communists in Russia and China are using Cuba and Venezuela to exert their influence on the hemisphere.

“It is very important that we defend one of the last places where we currently have democracy,” said Ackerman during the meeting.

A riot gear police officer fired tear gas at a group of protesters in Cali, Colombia, on Monday. (AP Photo / Andres Gonzalez) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The ongoing protests, which some experts see as a continuation of the unrest in 2019, began on April 28 after Colombian President Iván Duque announced a plan for tax reform. The proposal, which included tax increases on staple foods and fuel, angered unions amid blockades from the coronavirus pandemic.

Duque resigned, but dissatisfaction during the ongoing negotiations continues to fuel protests. Even native Colombians traveled to Bogotá, Medellin, and Cali from remote areas to join student protesters.

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Members of Colombian indigenous groups march against tax reform in Cali, Colombia, on Wednesday. (Photo AP / Andres Gonzalez) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

On Friday, day 9 of the strike, members of the Misak tribe destroyed the statues of Spanish conquerors – Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada in Bogotá and Sebastián de Belalcázar in Cali – both of whom died in Colombia in the 16th century.

“It’s just a general feeling of social dissatisfaction, and people see this opportunity to take the streets and voice that dissatisfaction,” said Cody Weddle, Local 10 News correspondent in Colombia / Venezuela.

Officers in riot gear arrest a protester in Bogota, Colombia, Wednesday. (AP Photo / Fernando Vergara) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Officials reported that at least 24 deaths were linked to the protests. Officials are investigating disappearances of protesters and reports of police brutality.

Videos showing the use of force by police officers on social media include a police officer fatally shooting a protester who ran away after kicking him.

A protester armed with a bat confronted riot geared police officers in Bogota, Colombia on Wednesday. (AP Photo / Fernando Vergara) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The United Nations Human Rights Office reported Tuesday that most of the violence had taken place in the Colombian city of Cali. Many of the agreements that Colombia has concluded with the US require that the country comply with international law and not violate human rights.

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