Students accuse authorites of lying over Cali protest death

Student leaders have accused authorities of lying about the cause of death of the Cali student who was killed Wednesday by an explosion at the protests against education reforms.

In the aftermath of the student’s death, police claimed Yan Farid Cheng Lugo died when potato bombs he was carrying in his bag exploded.

In a press release, the Colombian National Student Round table (MANE) claimed the explosive was thrown from a bridge above Cheng Lugo, killing him immediately and injuring 10 others with shrapnel.

Potato bombs are made by putting chemicals into a hollowed out potato, which explode on contact when they are thrown. Although they have caused serious injuries in the past, fatalities are rare, although not unheard of, and they do not produce shrapnel.

MANE said the incident was, “part of a strategy of stigmatization, intimidation and persecution of the student movement.”

They called for the authorities to clarify any role they might have had in the bombing, claiming, “we have denounced and proven repeatedly that state agents are infiltrating our actions to legitimize the repression and murder of students.”

Following Wednesday’s protest in Cali, several hundred students staged a rally at the University of Santiago de Cali, denouncing the police version of the events.

One speaker at the rally, who said he was a friend of Chen Lugo, said, “He was no encapuchado [hooded person] he wasn’t covering his face, he had nothing in his bag. They said he had something and he fell, that is a lie, it is the most untrue you can get.”

He added that they did not know who had thrown the bomb. As he spoke, a girl in the crowd shouted “false positive,” referring to the scandal of Colombian soldiers killing civilians and claiming they were guerrillas.

Following the death, the police announced they were treating it as an accident in their investigations.

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