Reggaeton superstar J Balvin posted a heartfelt tribute to a teenager who was killed during the anti-government protests in Colombia. The Grammy-nominated artist wrote about Dilan Cruz, and 18-year-old high school student who died after he was hit in the head by a projectile reportedly fired by Colombian authorities. Cruz has now become the face of the massive protests in the country.
J Balvin, who hails from Colombia, offered his condolences to Cruz' loved ones on Wednesday. He wrote in Spanish: "May Dylan Cruz rest in peace, peace needed by the people so these protests bring light and no darkness. It hurts to see that in his fight for his dreams, his life was taken away."
Inspired by similar movements throughout Latin America, the anti-government protests began peacefully last week as demonstrators were voicing their opposition to Colombian President Ivan Duque's conservative policies and pushing for better economic opportunities, including greater access to higher education. An estimated 250,000 people, including students like Cruz, teachers, union members and more, turned out to march Thursday, making it the largest protest in the history of Colombia, according to BBC News.
Demonstrators raise their hands during a vigil at the site where Dilan Cruz was injured on Saturday in Bogota, Colombia. Cruz was reported dead on Monday night after being hospitalized for two days. He had been shot by a member of the riot squad police (Esmad) in a demonstration on Saturday. He joined a protest to highlight the difficulties students like him had accessing higher education. GUILLERMO LEGARIA / Getty
The government response has been considered to be excessive, with riot police forcefully trying to disperse non-violent crowds with tear gas. During a march on Saturday, Cruz was injured from a projectile used by authorities.
One of Cruz's friends who joined him told Colombian newspaper "El Espectador" that riot police "threw stun grenades and tear gas canisters at us."
"Dilan went to the front to kick back a tear-gas canister, because it had landed next to old people, that's when he was shot at, they say it was a rubber bullet," his friend said. According to the report, Cruz was set to graduate high school last Monday.
His death was announced Monday evening, triggering even more protests – and gaining attention worldwide. President Duque offered his sympathies to Cruz's family and pledged to meet with leaders of the protests.
Three other people have been killed since the protests began, but those were related to looting incidents in the country, BBC News reported.
Demonstrators attend a vigil at the site where Dilan Cruz was injured in Bogota, Colombia. GUILLERMO LEGARIA / Getty