Displaced children in a refugee camp in the town of Carmen de Bolivar (Photo: En Directo Online)

Bogota’s city council is considering a proposal that would grant city police broad powers to combat begging in Colombia’s capital.

The proposal, titled the “Zero Begging” initiative, would authorize police to round up all those begging on the street, delivering them to shelters where they would be placed in community work programs, purportedly aimed at social reintegration, according to local media Radio Santa Fe.

The proposal also takes aim at those who give money to the homeless, through public campaigns influencing people not to give out money to those who beg.

Councilman Hosman Martinez, who supported the proposal, said, “the capital requires a solid structure to eradicate begging and indigence in Bogota.

“According to the last census of street persons, in Bogota there were around 9.614 people living on the street, of whom a large percent use begging as a form of live and a pretext for mafias that decide to traffic in the misery, handicaps, and the needs of a significant number of residents.”

Those who employ children to ask for money would also be liable for punishment under the city proposal.

According to Radio Santa Fe, Martinez said it was important to declare a “war” to “eliminate” “the “embarrassing scourge” of begging in the city. The councilman said that by implementing actions against begging, Bogota would eradicate homeless and poverty, and improve security.

Check out the VICE Magazine documentary video below for more information on violence facing Bogota’s homeless population.


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