Killings in Cali: What is to Blame for the Spike?

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Convulsed by nearly eight weeks of anti-government protests, the Colombian city of Cali has also experienced a terrible surge in murders. In May alone, the city tallied 177 homicides – the deadliest monthly toll in five years. Murders during the first four weeks of June are at 114, up from 80 during the whole month in 2020, according to figures obtained by InSight Crime.

Colombia’s top security officials have been quick to blame the violence on the drug trafficking and guerrilla groups they claim have infiltrated the protests, while protesters say police brutality is responsible.

But the recent social and economic unrest has been a catalyst, not a cause, of Cali’s surge in killings. Colombia’s third-largest city was already showing signs of increased violence before the protests broke out in April. The turmoil has added fuel to the fire, fracturing the city’s criminal landscape and rendering police ineffective.

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