“Criticism of the tax reform soon included other historical social demands of various collectives in Colombia”
“We carry a new world in our hearts”
The Grupo Libertario Vía Libre is a political organisation based in Bogotá, Colombia, founded on 20 June 2010. It inherits and is part of the tradition of social and organised anarchism worldwide and of the rich and diverse history of popular struggles in Colombia, Latin America and the world.
Currently, Vía Libre is active in different social fronts and seeks to bring together anarchists under common principles and a common political programme*. Via Libre develops its political practice in sectors such as students, women, sexual dissidence, peasants and urban workers. It also projects, promotes and participates in processes linked to popular education, territorial work, anti-speciesism and environmentalism, human rights, urban art and solidarity with other struggles at local and global level.
The first mobilisations, which began on 28 April, demanded the elimination of the draft Sustainable Solidarity Law. What does this law consist of and why has it been the trigger for massive protests?
The bill presented by the government of Iván Duque of the Democratic Centre was a neoliberal economic adjustment policy in the midst of the deep economic crisis unleashed by the pandemic, which meant a decrease in GDP by 2020 of -6.8%. This project, the third bosses’ tax reform presented by the Uribista administration in three years in office, sought to reduce the fiscal deficit calculated at 35 trillion Colombian pesos, by increasing direct and indirect taxes on the working population, while maintaining the general model of large tax exemptions for companies and the bourgeoisie.
The background to this bosses’ programme was the historic public health crisis and an economic crisis similar to 1929, which has increased inequality, poverty reaching 42% of the population, unemployment hitting 15% and precarious work leading to 88% of workers earning less than two minimum wages.
The bill was soon widely rejected by the working population, and the movement of 28 April, the seventh general strike movement against the government, succeeded in catalysing, partly through significant agitation work, the strong rejection of the government. Finally, under pressure from the street, the government found itself in a minority in parliament, betrayed by the leadership of its own party, and on 4 May it was forced to withdraw the bill and accept the resignation of Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla, one of the strongmen of the ruling Uribista, conservative and evangelical coalition, on the 5th of the same month.
“This tax reform is more violent than any protest” – banner against Iván Duque’s tax reform, at the National Strike on 28 April 2021, in Bogotá.
The origin of the protest was surpassed from the very beginning, with demands for an end to femicide, opposition to mega-mining and fracking projects, respect for indigenous peoples and student demands. What are the demands of the movement?
The truth is that the initial general demand for the rejection of the tax reform, was articulated early on with a more open, diverse and disjointed set of social demands such as those you mention, in addition, for example, to the neoliberal health reform bill, which was also withdrawn on 19 May. Furthermore, the high levels of police and para-police repression deployed against the movement soon brought to the centre the demands of the victims of police violence and the rejection of state and para-state violence, which are linked to historical demands such as the dismantling of the National Police’s Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) and an end to the assassination of social leaders.
In parallel, during the national days of protest in November-December 2019, the National Strike Committee, a bureaucratic body mainly driven by the majority unions, drew up a programme that was later expanded during the crisis of 2020 and the protests of that year. Although it has been argued that the mobilisation is based on this programme, which may contain important demands, this is inaccurate, as it is generally unknown to the majority of demonstrators and its elaboration and sharing was absolutely limited.
On the other hand, the previous struggle of the state teachers against the return to classroom teaching without sanitary conditions, of the university students for free tuition, of the state workers for a national state list of demands, of the indigenous, black and peasant communities for agrarian support policies have been added at this juncture.
Is this rejection of the government being capitalised on by Gustavo Petro’s opposition, or are the protests far removed from political parties?
There is great opposition to the Duque government and since the national strike of 21 November 2019 the slogan “Duque out!” has been widespread. However, the demand to get the government out has not managed to become sufficiently established and this is an element that is not included in the more concrete demands, at least in the immediate future.
On the one hand, there are the centrist sectors of the so-called Coalition of Hope, which have unsuccessfully sought to represent a movement that had been condemned and repressed by local governments. On the other side is the social democratic leadership of Gustavo Petro and the electoral movement Colombia Humana. They are popular among many protesters, both among trade union and social organisations, and among popular youth who are making their first political experience. However, although they have a certain media role, they have not played a relevant role in the organisation and development of the protest. Petro himself, who has been called the “biggest anarchist in the country” by pro-Uribe senators, only participated in one mobilisation after 20 days of protest, and his supporters are seeking an electoral channelling of this dynamic in view of the 2022 presidential elections.
Left-wing political parties have played a role at this juncture, especially in the context of trade union or student activity, but they have not led such an explosive and inorganic movement. Although it is against a background of many years of community activity and organisation, in many local activities the football clubs or groups of friends in the neighbourhoods have played a more important role than the traditional social organisations.
We see images and read stories of neighbourhoods that have risen up, are highly mobilised and have even expelled police forces. How are these places organising themselves? Have new structures been created to enable neighbourhood self-organisation or did they already exist before?
These situations are very interesting, but so far they are short-lived and fragmentary. There is a clear element of rejection of the police by important sectors of popular youth, expressed in the attacks on police facilities such as the Comandos de Atención Inmediata (CAI), taking up elements of the revolt against police brutality of 9 and 10 September 2020, following the cruel murder of Javier Ordoñez, a movement whose repression resulted in at least 13 deaths.
The level of mobilisation varies greatly at regional and local level, with the situation in the department of Valle del Cauca in Cali or Yumbo being particularly notable for the so-called points of resistance with more or less continuous street blockades. In the second week of the mobilisation, sectors of transport workers such as lorry and taxi drivers also carried out road blockades with their own more corporate demands.
In general, the idea of spontaneous activity and the practice of permanent mobilisation prevails, although the forms of self-organisation are still weak. Compared to the 2019 protest, where local popular assemblies were developed in embryonic form and later dissolved, the levels of community self-organisation seem weaker at this juncture, although experiences in this sense have been developed in Cali, some popular neighbourhoods and public universities.
In places like Cali, we have seen indigenous peoples coming to the city to join the marches. What are their demands and how do they participate in the protests?
Indigenous peoples have had a diverse participation in the current situation and have generally received a racist response from the business press and conservative sectors that portray them as uncivilised. On the one hand, sectors of the Misak people organised in the Indigenous Authorities of the South West (AISO) have developed symbolic actions focused on the debate on historical memory, such as the toppling of statues of colonial conquerors such as Sebastián de Belalcázar in Cali or Gonzalo Jiménez de Quezada in Bogotá. On the other hand, indigenous peoples from the Amazon region, the Caribbean and the centre of the country have participated in various mobilisations in the major national capitals and have led their own protest activities.
At the same time, a mainly Nasa indigenous sector in the department of Cauca, organised in the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC), has been carrying out a struggle since mid-April for the recovery of lands in the hands of landowners and companies, which it has called the ‘Minga hacia adentro’ (Minga inwards). Since the beginning of May, the Minga inwards has been branching outwards, and they began to blockade the Pan-American Highway together with peasant organisations and black communities, partly because of national demands, but also to demand the fulfilment of previous agreements between the national government and the rural sectors. During this same period, a group from the CRIC travelled to Cali, as it had done in the second half of 2020, to participate in the protest and eventually in the blockades, where they suffered strong and racist police and para-police repression, as well as attempted massacres.
The indigenous guard of Cauca in the mobilisations of May 2021.
Although the protests have a very broad ideological framework, we see a strong participation of anarchist collectives. What role is anarchism playing in the mobilisations?
Yes, there is an anarchist presence in the social outburst, although it is still very weak and marginal. While in November 2019 we achieved a momentary leadership in some popular neighbourhoods such as the Guacamayas neighbourhood in Bogotá and in the student movement of 2018 we did the same in some humanities courses in public universities, we think that now our influence is less clear.
However, for the last decade, the presence of red and black, purple and black and black flags in union, student and neighbourhood marches has become a little more common, although we often find ourselves in relative solitude. There is also the presence of chants like “rise up with those who fight” and graffiti, and the constant activity of many comrades in different social sectors and protests.
We think that the organised anarchists have the task to continue to push this popular movement with interesting libertarian elements to strengthen its anarchist elements of democratic, deliberative and direct self-organisation, to strengthen the libertarian socialist elements of the demands and political reflections and the internationalist, intersectional and revolutionary spirit and symbolism.
The Colombian security forces have a long history of repression and human rights violations. How is the government’s repression going?
The repression against protest, especially against road blockades, soon combined the “legal” elements of the use of police force with the irregular and illegal elements so characteristic of the Colombian state. Thus, on the one hand, we have the anti-riot action of the available forces, the national police and the ESMAD, applied with an extraordinarily high level of severity, which has been reinforced by the call for military aid announced by the national government since 1 May and the presence of army troops in areas such as Valle or Atlántico and in various road blockades.
On the other hand, we have the presence of unidentified civilian agents and the shots, including machine gun fire, fired at demonstrators by the police themselves in situations of unrest in the neighbourhoods of Bogotá and Cali, of which there are 133 documented cases. And then there is the action of parapolice and paramilitary forces, with shots fired at demonstrators in Cali, Pereira or Medellín from cars or buildings.
According to Indepaz records, on 20 May there were 47 deaths from police and parapolice repression. In addition, Temblores and Indepaz recorded 30 victims of ocular violence on 16 May, 1,055 irregular detentions, at least 362 injured, a total of 2,110 cases of violence by the security forces, and the Ombudsman’s Office recorded 548 reports of disappearances on 9 May. In addition, the application of illegal procedures to extend detentions, the occurrence of raids on homes without warrants, the firing of tear gas on homes, the application of cruel treatment and torture against detainees, intermittent power cuts in areas affected by the repression have been denounced.
We read countless reports of abuse and sexual violence against women. Is this a common practice among the security forces?
Yes, unfortunately it is. The State Security Forces, police and military, are overwhelmingly composed of men with macho values, the high police and military hierarchy is exclusively male, the members of these bodies live within a violent and harassing patriarchal body and their relations with civilians are also marked by all kinds of expressions of male domination.
In police repression, gender-based violence and acts against women and sexual dissidents are common, and there are repeated reports of abuse in police stations, trucks and detention units. Military activity is even worse, because terror against women is used as a weapon in the counter-insurgency struggle, as a strategy of war.
At least 16 cases of sexual violence against women demonstrators and 3 open cases of gender violence have been registered in the current situation.
Demonstrations and other signs of international solidarity are taking place outside Colombia. Do you hear this news? What can we do from abroad to support your struggle?
This news is comforting and shows us the greatness and beauty of international solidarity. Although many of these demonstrations have been called by Colombians abroad, whether students or political exiles, there has always been an important participation of people from the most diverse origins and geographies in support of the social struggle in the region and denouncing government repression.
The international work of disseminating information, denouncing repression, discussing the national situation in different areas, symbolic and logistical accompaniment of victims, financial support for campaigns to buy implements and food, pressure on the media and politicians to clarify their position on this serious situation, as well as actions to put pressure on the Colombian state in embassies and delegations, are very valuable.
Our situation is difficult, but broader, continuous and sustained internationalist efforts are vital because the situation of the popular struggles in Myanmar, Kurdistan, Western Sahara or Palestine is also dramatic. However, it is also important that the social struggle in Colombia feeds the various local popular struggles, and that the best of our experience of mobilisation allows us to strengthen the social and popular organisations and movements of the world, just as the indignados and the 15 May movement did a decade ago.
Original date of post before updates: May 16th 2021
House of [In]Justice torched, La Plata, 17th May 2021
Whilst English-language anarchist and other anti-statist sites show how brutal capitalism in Colombia is, and show their solidarity with the uprising there, as far as I can see they give little information or critique – if any – about the ideas and ideologies of the participants in this uprising, nor of how anti-state ideas are received, nor of whether this movement is trying to go beyond strikes and riots – say, with occupations, organised expropriation and distribution of necessities, etc. Worse, they tend to concentrate on the protesters solely as victims of the obviously repulsive cop brutality, whilst writing little about the excellent attacks on cops, looting, pulling down of statues, attacks on state or local state buildings, etc.
Obviously, living in France and having no contacts in Colombia I have no means of knowing much of what, at this level, has been happening. We have seen, for instance in the uprising in Chile in 2019, how anarchists, almost invariably, and certainly those in organisations, supported the idea of a change of constitution. They seem to have not only forgotten that a change of paper changes nothing but one suspects remaining silent about such a reform of the state was pursued for opportunist reasons of making themselves popular. One would hope that that will change – in Colombia as in Chile as in other countries in South America, though it’d probably take a degree of courage to go against the increasing tendency to hold back on significant critiques.
The chronology below gives a bit of detail about what subversive events are taking place in Colombia, but doesn’t talk much of the obvious brutality of the cops nor of the obvious misery state policies are inflicting, facts which should already be well-known to anybody interested. But it seems like the only way I can express a minimal solidarity with the movement there other than trying to contribute to social contestation in the part of the world I live in.
My Spanish is pretty poor, so these are Deepl Translations. They are largely taken from mainstream articles and so often reflect the smug idiocies of ruling moralism and ideologies, with their standard hypocrisies, but the facts are interesting.
Of what I’ve seen (admittedly, limited) the most interesting exception to my comment in the first paragraph – “Whilst English-language anarchist and other anti-statist sites show how brutal capitalism in Colombia is, and show their solidarity with the uprising there, as far as I can see they give little information or critique – if any – about the ideas and ideologies of the participants in this uprising…” is this Deepl translation of this interview with Grupo Libertario Vía Libre, from Bogotá that I’ve added to this site:
“…several demonstrations were held again in some sectors of Bogotá. However, in the midst of the demonstrations, there have been heavy clashes between members of the security forces and hooded demonstrators, with the locality of Usme being the most affected…Although it did not provide further details, TransMilenio reported that vandalism was reported in the same locality against a feeder bus, which was retained by a group of protesters, who slashed its tyres and broke its windows…”The police report that the grenades being used by ESMAD against the hooded demonstrators in the Suba sector are being thrown by the latter against neighbouring houses. …Another sector where heavy clashes have been reported between the security forces and citizens is the Americas Portal, where all TransMilenio feeder services continue to be suspended.”
“Throughout October 28, sit-ins and demonstrations were reported at several key points in Bogotá as a way of commemorating the national strike. Citizens took to the streets in Usme, downtown, Teusaquillo and Chapinero. ..We recorded demonstrations in Suba, at the National University, on the 30th, in the Plaza de Bolívar and Usme,” reported Luis Ernesto Gómez, Bogotá’s Secretary of Government. The authorities assured that the day, in general, passed in order. The only observation made was in relation to mobility, as there were peaceful blockades that forced drivers to take detours. In the sector of Las Aguas, for example, there were demonstrations at the height of Carrera 3 with Calle 19. The marchers were occupying the north-south direction, so that lane was blocked…disturbances did occur in Usme in the evening. The demonstrations took place in the area of Chicala (Carrera 76 con calle 35 sur), on the so-called ‘Puente de la Dignidad’ (Bridge of Dignity). Initially, a group of people blocked the road, with an approximate capacity of 200 people. They started at Class Rom and joined the Chicalá mobilisation with the intention of heading to the Kennedy mayor’s office. Everything was going smoothly. The authorities reported road blockades at Avenida Caracas and Calle 76B South. The blockade was on Avenida Caracas in both directions. In addition, there were also blockages on Avenida Primero de Mayo and Villavicencio. Then, at around 5:00 p.m., altercations began between citizens and uniformed officers. “Unfortunately, in Usme, an estimated 50 people began to attack some uniformed members of the security forces at around 5:00 p.m. This provoked a police intervention in the area. This provoked a police intervention in which one person was detained. Also, unfortunately, one person was injured and is already being accompanied by the district’s health services,” said Gómez.”
“Heavy disturbances in Soacha by eviction executed by the Mayor’s Office. The authorities arrived at six in the morning to recover a property in the San Luis sector, in the upper part of the municipality of Soacha (Cundinamarca). About a hundred families built their homes on the property located in the rural area, apparently without a building permit. “Three years ago we were living here and it seems very unfair to us because we had our papers up to date, and they are going to take us out onto the street as if we were dogs. There are displaced children, there are elderly people. Where are they going to put us? This is not fair, it’s not fair that they do this to people. They are tearing down their houses,” said Geralidne, a young woman affected. “There are legal deeds, we have everything up to date; the only thing is that the mayor doesn’t want to give us a licence to build. I don’t know why there is so much injustice in this country, why are they destroying houses like this? There are people in debt in the bank to be able to build their houses; it’s very unfair,” added Geraldine. The community insists on resisting these demolitions. For its part, the Mayor’s Office of Soacha assures that the process is being carried out in compliance with a court decision, which orders the recovery of environmentally protected land that would prevent construction. Throughout the morning there have been heavy clashes between the occupants of the property and the Mobile Anti-riot Squadron – Esmad, there are several injured, most of them older adults.”
“The confrontations on the lands of the multinational Smurfit Kappa Cartón de Colombia in the rural area of the municipality of Cajibío, Cauca, continue unabated, and in the last few hours, four young Misak indigenous people were reported injured and one captured. The disturbances occurred between peasant and indigenous communities who have been claiming these lands as their ancestral lands, and the Mobile Anti-riot Squadron, Esmad, of the Police, uniformed members of the Army and workers of the company…It should be remembered that the authorities reported that the intervention of the security forces was in response to requests from the multinational to guarantee the right to private property…Tension in the area remains high and the clashes have been going on for more than a month.”
“A hooded man fired at the Esmad in Medellín…The National Police denounced Friday that Esmad agents were attacked with firearms during the disturbances that took place Thursday night near the Botanical Garden in the northern part of the city. In the afternoon, a peaceful demonstration took place ended in the Parque de los Deseos sector…However, according to the authorities, at night “the demonstrators of the so-called ‘front line’ started violent and criminal actions against the infrastructure of the railway house (cultural heritage) and the Botanical Garden”. In this sector, according to the police, elements such as Molotov cocktails and explosive potatoes were thrown. After exhausting mediation by the Personería and human rights officials, the intervention of the Esmad was necessary and at that moment several gunshots were heard…”Immediately the search and verification of videos in the security cameras of the city was activated, observing a person who allegedly fired at the Esmad units impacting one of the ballistic shields,” added the institution…The director of the police, General Jorge Luis Vargas, indicated that a reward of up to 50 million pesos [roughly 11,000 euros – almost 3 times the average annual wage] is being offered for information leading to the whereabouts of the shooter.”
“…the official assured that there had been acts of vandalism and even aggression against public officials. That is why, in this case, the authorities intervened. It is worth mentioning that this happened just a few hours before the mobilisations that are expected to take place on Thursday. The National Strike Committee has called for new demonstrations against various government policies. One of these would be the opposition to the Tax Reform that is being processed in Congress. Meanwhile, today’s demonstrations are planned in the city of Bogota from the National Park to the Plaza de Bolivar. In the Betania neighbourhood and in Usme, in the south of the city, several demonstrations are also expected to take place on Thursday. The National Strike Committee has called for these mobilisations to take place in a peaceful manner. They also expect those attending the marches to use their respective biosecurity measures.”
Popayan: “…members of the front line attacked the police; the “front line” is what is known in Colombia as the young people at the front of the demonstrations who, with hoods, tin shields, helmets, gloves, stones and rubber bands, confront the public forces. The riots occurred one day after the funeral of the student leader of the University of Cauca, Esteban Mosquera, who was killed by hired assassins on 23 August. Mosquera, a music student and participant in the last National Strike (demonstrations against the government), had lost an eye in 2018 to a device thrown by members of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad”
“An SITP bus was set on fire and clashes ended the eviction that took place on the morning of Monday 9 August in the Tibabuyes wetland, where a group of demonstrators had set up an encampment nine months ago as a form of protest against the works being carried out by the Begotá Aqueduct in the area. According to the Suba Human Rights Committee, the security forces used gas to evict the 20 or so people who were in Tibabuyes, despite the fact that the use of chemical weapons is prohibited in the wetlands. In addition, protesters vandalised one of the new electric buses, which began operating in Bogotá last week, in the midst of the clashes….despite the fact that the bus was carrying passengers, neither the driver nor the passengers were injured. ..Tibabuyes is the largest wetland in Bogotá, home to one of the largest populations of the Tingua Bogotana and is the only one that registers marsh moss. To prevent construction in this space, since Friday 20 November 2020, different social and environmental organisations from Suba and Engativá, together with the Muisca Indigenous Cabildo of Suba, organised themselves within the wetland to prevent the continuation of the works….After the announcement of the eviction from the site, some protesters blocked the entrance to the wetland while others went out on Ciudad de Cali Avenue, and it was here that the confrontations began…”
“The disturbances occurred in Usme, Portal Americas and Portal Suba, a police source in the Colombian capital …. That is, the same places that have been the epicentre of protests since the last National Strike, which lasted from 28 April to 15 June….The acts of vandalism included damage to traffic lights, and the use of “incendiary handmade elements”, against uniformed personnel, medical mission and press, Brigadier Eliécer Camacho Jiménez, commander of the Bogotá police, said on his Twitter account.”
“The mobilisation of students and young people ended in riots in Bucaramanga, where hooded men set fire to a Servientrega office in the vicinity of the Bolivar horse, there are also reports of 20 injured and 40 captured.”
“…vandals set fire to facilities of the Mayor’s Office and the Police of Cajibío, Cauca. The community protested against the death of a young peasant injured in an eviction, allegedly at the hands of a police officer. …Clashes between protesters and the security forces broke out again on Wednesday night in Cajibío, Cauca, after a day of protests that turned violent…the attack on the station had been carried out with explosive potatoes and Molotov cocktails, ..The communities in the area were protesting at the end of July to recover the land on which a multinational cardboard company is located. When the police arrived in the area to evict the demonstrators, Camayo Fajardo was shot and knocked unconscious, and had to be taken by other peasants to the municipal hospital and from there to the hospital in Popayán, the capital of the department. However, he died just one day later…”
“Three months into the National Strike, protests once again took place in the country’s capital. Although much less intense than in previous days, these demonstrations resulted in blockades, riots and acts of vandalism that left at least six police officers injured and thirteen people arrested… violent incidents were recorded in four areas of the city. The clashes began in the afternoon in the Usme sector, in the south of the capital. According to the authorities, a group of hooded men attacked several police officers and threw stones at them. As a result of this situation, six police officers were injured ..Several stations closed due to demonstrations. In the evening there were disturbances and clashes involving around 200 people in the vicinity of Portal Américas and another similar group in the vicinity of Portal de Suba. The police said that the intervention of Esmad and the available force was necessary because some people threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the Transmilenio facilities and the uniformed officers guarding them. At Carrera 10 with calle 27 sur there was a blockade that led to riots…”
“The day of protests this Wednesday in Barranquilla left damage and injured people, in the two demonstrations that took place in the capital of Atlántico. The first march, which in the morning hours went peacefully along Murillo Street in Barranquilla, to the Plaza de la Paz, ended in clashes between hooded youths and members of the Esmad Corps of the Metropolitan Police. ..Later, at 4:00 in the afternoon, another demonstration began in Calle 98 and 52, in front of the Buenavista shopping centre, in the north of the city, as a rallying point. Hundreds of young people, many of them students from universities in Barranquilla, joined in chanting slogans in defence of education and against the national government….The march, which began in relative calm, turned violent as the minutes passed, due to attacks by a group of people from another demonstration, who vandalised some shops. The Olímpica superstores on Calle 84 and 51B and Carrera 46 and Calle 82 were attacked and looted; the CAI in Suri Salcedo Park, as well as some banking establishments and various other premises, were also attacked by the miscreants. Along the route, the demonstrators stopped at times at health care centres to applaud and thank the health workers, and then resumed their march. For the time being, the authorities have not yet provided an estimate of the damage, damage to property or reports of people arrested.”
One can see certain problems arising in this excellently persistent and stubbornly tenacious movement: unions (for instance, in Medellin) were diverting anger into merely symbolic cultural events designed to “educate” those who were educating themselves and really needed none of the condescension of such hierarchically inspired “education”: “These clashes contrast with the cultural performances that have been taking place since the morning hours, in which groups of artists and musicians staged a day of symbolic demonstrations aimed at raising historical grievances and slogans against the national government. The unions and central organisations of the capital of Antioquia called for a cultural takeover with a variety of music and a rally in the eastern sector of Parques del Río, between the Intelligent Building of the Medellín Public Utilities and the Metropolitan Theatre, which began at 10:00 a.m.” For a couple of critiques of culture on this site, see this and this.
Day of demonstration in the south of Barranquilla ended in riots
“…a group of youths remained in the sector and several of them threw blunt objects and firebombs at the old facilities of the Antonio Nariño Police School.In the face of the aggression, members of the Institution’s Esmad Command responded to the action of the protesters, some of whom attempted to forcibly enter the police academy…Two demonstrations were held in Barranquilla in the afternoon, as part of the day of protests to mark the celebration of July 20.A first mobilisation, organised by members of the group called Coordinadora Popular, travelled along Avenida Murillo, from Carrera 8 to the roundabout on Calle 17, which was closed by the authorities as a precaution.The second took the form of a sit-in, which culminated in a confrontation between the authorities and youths on 17th Street…In the morning, with the accompaniment of the police, a peaceful sit-in was held by the central labour and trade union associations such as the CUT, CGT, Anthoc, Adea and Adeba, among others, which began with a floral offering at the monument to the Liberator, on the Paseo Bolivar.The activity was carried out in complete normality.”
“Riots reported in Bogota and Cali on Tuesday afternoon.. the community of the Tequendama neighbourhood denounced the intention of several individuals to force their way into the Éxito [supermarket] in this area in the south of Cali. In response to the alert, the police went to the site to prevent acts of vandalism and to guarantee public order…In the sector of Usme, precisely on the bridge of Dignity, in Yomasa, there are disturbances between the Esmad and the people. Citizens report the use of stun guns and tear gas to disperse citizens. The Personería de Bogotá reported intermittent blockades in this area. There are also clashes at the Portal de las Américas…At least six Transmilenio buses were attacked during the day. Four trunk buses, two SITP buses and several Transmilenio stations were affected…”
“…a police station was destroyed by rioters overnight.The building, located in the city of Madrid in the central Cundinamarca region, was attacked by a mob of around 30 people on Monday night.The officers retreated after what the media described as a siege, which lasted for more than five hours. The rioters erected barricades and set patrol motorcycles on fire before torching the police outpost, the Infobae news website reported. …several vehicles destroyed. The officials said ambulances had been vandalized and the life of health workers threatened…Rioting and clashes with police occurred on Monday in other cities, including the country’s capital, Bogota, where eight buses were set alight and six people detained. In Facatativa, a court building was set on fire for the second time since May…In Barranquilla, a group of protesters toppled a nearly 130-year-old statue of Christopher Columbus.”
“The Palace of Justice in Facatativá was once again set on fire. The building had been set ablaze in May during the riots resulting from the National Strike. .. in addition to the fire at the Palace of Justice, there were road blockades from 3:30 p.m. in sectors such as Cartagenita, Villa Alba, Carrera 5, Calle 15, vereda Mancilla and near the headquarters of the University of Cundinamarca. The damage to Carrera 5, which is an important road connecting the municipality with the department, was caused by damage to infrastructure (broken cables), and heavy transport was diverted to alternative routes…Funza: clashes between vandals and police at the Colanta Bridge, calle 9 with carrera 9, due to blocking of the former to this artery that connects the Sabana with the capital of the Republic. Soacha: intermittent blockades on the road leading from this municipality to the capital of the Republic in the vicinity of the Terminal del Sur. Madrid: fire at the El Sosiego police station and blockades on the roads that connect the municipality with the capital of the Republic. ..Bosa-Porvenir: This locality of Bogotá had clashes between protesters and police during the afternoon and evening of 28 June. “
“Hooded men vandalised and attempted to set fire to Icetex …The branch of a supermarket chain was also vandalised…A group of hooded men …attacked and tried to set fire to the Icetex headquarters located in the centre of the city, just one street away from the Mayor’s Office of the capital of Tolima. Óscar Berbeo, municipal government secretary, indicated that several youths arrived at the site and attacked the windows of the financial institution with stones and other blunt objects. They then set fire to part of the first floor of the building.”
“Three police facilities in Bogota, Medellin (northwest) and Pereira (west) were attacked during the day, while a statue of Christopher Columbus was toppled by protesters in the northern city of Barranquilla…The anti-riot squad intervened “on 20 occasions in several cities,” police director general Jorge Vargas said in an audio message sent to the media…A dozen public transport vehicles were also “vandalised”, according to Vargas…Meanwhile in Medellín, demonstrators from the so-called “front line” were harshly repressed by tanks and riot squad officers…Although the most visible front of the mobilisations suspended protests until 20 July, other non-conformist sectors are maintaining their marches, rallies and blockades, which the government claims have pushed the pandemic to record levels of deaths and contagions.”
“Buses were burned in the capital of Nariño. In Cauca, serious confrontations.”
“…uniformed officers were attacked with stones and blunt instruments. “Two employees of the municipal ombudsman’s office were attacked and threatened by people who are part of the social protest”, said William Yeffer Vivas, ombudsman of Medellín.”
“Vandalism has occurred in recent days in cities such as Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, Neiva and Pasto among other regions. It was reported that a group of hooded men attacked the Transmilenio Portal in Suba and used ‘Molotov cocktails’ with which they endangered the lives of other citizens and members of the police. It was also reported that several Transmilenio stations, the SuperCade de las Américas, two traffic lights, eight articulated buses and two Sitp buses were attacked. The director of the police, General Jorge Luis Vargas, also said that “in Neiva, the Filadelfia Church was attacked by throwing incendiary devices. In Manizales, the Caí de Chipre and Villahermosa were attacked and two motorbikes belonging to the institution were also attacked”. In the city of Pasto, the facilities of the National Registrar’s Office and the Dian were vandalised, as well as a cleaning vehicle belonging to the municipality. Similarly, in Bucaramanga, damage was reported to a courier company, an ATM and a private motorbike that was set on fire. …In the municipality of Bello, three tractor-trailers were attacked with stones and sticks in the midst of the disturbances.”
“The Colombian government announced Friday that it had modified a presidential decree to limit the definition of peaceful protest and specify that road blockades, whether temporary or permanent, do not constitute a form of demonstration and therefore allow the “legitimate use of force”.”
“the departmental strike committee…is currently under a national directive to suspend all types of mass activity.”
“ While the national government and the Unemployment Committee did not advance and for now no new approaches are foreseen in Bogotá, the dialogue was decentralized and now the tables of talks will be in the regions, while the strike continues in Cali and the metropolitan area, but they are advancing the conversations with mayors … the government of Iván Duque …have announced that through 200 dialogue tables in the country they want to listen to the protesters in the regions. …As announced by the Union of Resistance Comuna 20, in Siloé the Glorieta was unblocked this Sunday after a peaceful day with the community. The resistance in Siloé decided to unblock it to enter a ‘permanent assembly’ There was food, games for children, and a candle and closing of the protest with a blockade. The young people and members of the First Line are waiting there for the agreement to be fulfilled to continue in the dialogue. They have warned that the strike in Cali continues….This Sunday they officially unlocked the point of the Silo roundabout. …The Siloam roundabout is now clear. “We want the right thing to be done now,” protesters told the government. The strike ended under this mechanism of limiting mobility and other activities at this point in the hillside area… …the unblocking of La Nave will be done. Yumbo, unblocks with dialogue From 4 am the police and Esmad arrived at Ecopetrol’s resistance point in Yumbo, the Cali metropolitan area, to remove debris, barricade and clean up. The clearance has been completed without confrontations, there are no reports of arrests. “
This looks – from the exterior – like a typical divide and rule tactic – negotiate at a regional level so that each region will be treated differently and the sense of a national movement is lost.
“…in the Americas Portal, a group of protesters attacked police officers with stones, sticks and other blunt objects. The Esmad had to intervene.”
“Once again, the riots overshadowed the day of protests that was called this Wednesday in Bogotá, within the framework of the National Strike. In different parts of the city, members of the Police and protesters clashed, forcing dozens of people to walk home. Fontibón, for example, was one of the most affected towns of the day. There, at the beginning of the night, clashes were recorded between protesters with police officers, who were attacked with stones and sticks.”
“Vandals set fire to two SITP buses during riots in Bogotá“
“Carrera 1 between Calles 62 and 73 and its surroundings, in the area of Paso del Comercio, has been the epicentre of clashes between civilians and the security forces since Friday afternoon. The clashes took place after a large police operation in the early hours of this morning to unblock this sector, which had been blocked since April 28th. After the unblocking, several demonstrators insist on keeping the roads affected and confront the Esmad, who are trying to have this corridor that connects Cali with Palmira enabled. …A standard bus of the MÍO system was taken by hooded persons, vandalised and later set on fire on a road in the east of Cali….they forced the passengers and the driver to abandon the vehicle, and then vandalised and burned it…A truck that was attached to the Metropolitan Police of Cali was retained by people who vandalized it near the bridge of the Thousand Days, east of Cali. Videos were disseminated through social networks showing a group of young people holding the vehicle, driving it along the roads and then setting it on fire.”
“… National strike on 2 June: isolated clashes in different cities. The Strike Committee called for “huge mobilisations” in the face of disagreement with the Executiv.. there were several points of concentration and mobilisations of hundreds of people in different cities such as Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, Barranquilla and others….This is how the day progressed: 11:00 p.m. The Bogotá Government Secretariat reported that on Avenida Ciudad de Cali and Calle 139, a group of demonstrators attacked police officers, requiring the intervention of the Esmad….Motorcyclists join the concentration of citizens who at this hour remain in the sector of Los Héroes, in Bogotá… people outside the demonstration set fire to a booth located at the vehicular entrance of the Americas Portal. 9:30 p.m. In Bogotá, citizens report clashes in Suba, northwest of the capital. 9:20 p.m. At this hour, citizens report clashes between demonstrators and members of the security forces in Bucaramanga, events that seem to have left several people injured…7:50 p.m. Citizens report violent intervention by ESMAD in the La Esmeralda neighbourhood in Popayán. 7:35 p.m. The Secretary of Government of Bogota reports the presence of more than 600 young people in the Portal Americas, who are demonstrating around singing and music. 7:00 p.m. Transmilenio reports that Portal 80 and the stations Carrera 90, Avenida Cali, Granja Carrera 77, Minuto de Dios and Avenida Boyacá are closed, which is why they are returning to Ferias. The company also reports that the Quirigua station is closed due to vandalism…6:30 p.m. Citizens report that the ESMAD launched tear gas at one of the Medellin Metro stations, which is why passengers had to break one of the windows of the carriage to be able to breathe. 6:10 p.m. It is reported that a pick-up truck ran over a protester …5:50 p.m. In Medellín, at this time disturbances are reported on Barranquilla Avenue and around the Botanical Garden…. Transversal 91 is closed due to vandalism….Troncal Caracas Sur: Portal Usme, Molinos and Consuelo stations are closed. (Socorro station is closed due to vandalism) and route 6-3 Sierra Morena de Portal Tunal is cancelled. Troncal Carrera Décima: Portal 20 de Julio and Ciudad Jardín are closed (Country Sur, Av. 1 de Mayo, Policarpa and San Bernardo are closed due to vandalism)….Américas Trunk Line: The Américas Portal is closed, and the service is cancelled. (The Jiménez station operates along Calle 13. The other stations on the trunk line are closed due to vandalism)….Caracas South Trunk Line: Portal Usme, Molinos and Consuelo stations are closed. (Socorro station is closed due to vandalism). Carrera Décima trunk line: Portal 20 de Julio and Ciudad Jardín are closed (Country Sur, Av. 1 de Mayo, Policarpa and San Bernardo are closed due to vandalism)….Troncal Américas: Portal Américas is closed, and the bus service is cancelled. (The Jiménez station is operating on Calle 13. The other stations on the trunk line are closed due to vandalism). Troncal Caracas: Flores station is closed (Calle 76 and Calle 72 are closed due to vandalism). Troncal Caracas Sur: Portal Usme, Molinos and Consuelo stations are closed. (Socorro station is closed due to vandalism). Troncal Carrera Décima: Portal 20 de Julio and Ciudad Jardín are closed (Country Sur, Av. 1 de Mayo, Policarpa and San Bernardo are closed due to vandalism)….11: 53 a.m. Demonstrations and sit-ins are taking place at six points in Bogotá: AV SUBA with 91; Parque Nacional, where there is an approximate capacity of 1400 people…6:50 a.m. At Portal del Norte, Bogotá, there are delays in Transmilenio’s feeder service due to demonstrations. The transport system has 51 stations vandalised and will not be operating.”
“The situation became tense when a group of hooded men tried to attack the headquarters of the SENA [National Learning Service] on Carrera 27 and the Bucaramanga Mobile Anti-riot Squadron intervened…This same group of hooded men threw incendiary objects at the UIS Park Station, and so the authorities tried to dissipate the situation but were attacked when they threw elements used for pyrotechnics and Molotov type bombs at them…”until 8pm everything was going normally, when a pitched battle broke out, hooded people started throwing Molotov cocktails or flying bombs and the Esmad responded with tear gas. I live with a 5 year old girl and I had to lock her in, an elderly lady fainted, we had to put rags under the door to keep the smoke out.”
“Jhon Danny Rosero Estrella, a 22-year-old university student, died on Monday afternoon after being shot in the midst of heavy clashes between the security forces and demonstrators protesting against oil exploitation by the multinational Gran Tierra Energy in the municipality of Villagarzón, Putumayo. The situation began, according to Carlos López Descanse, of the Association of Indigenous Councils of the department, when a ‘regional strike committee’ was refused entry to the company’s installations in the village of Costayaco, to verify compliance with previously agreed agreements, such as the suspension of operations for causing environmental damage, as alerted by the indigenous people. ..”There were about 20 people on the road, but a group of anti-narcotics police, under the responsibility of Lieutenant Colonel Juan Carlos Hernández, attacked the peaceful demonstration. They started using their weapons and shooting at the people. At this point, a young man from the march was killed”, said López, who insisted that the protest was repressed and attacked with gunfire, allegedly by the National Police. From the clashes, according to the indigenous community, 23 demonstrators were injured, three of them with gunshot wounds. In the days prior to these clashes, they have also denounced intimidation by the security forces, including helicopters flying overhead and dropping leaflets with “criminal warnings” for their blockades…Colonel Francisco Gelvez Aleman, commander of the Putumayo police, told Caracol Radio that the demonstrators forced their way into the company where army soldiers and police personnel were injured, forcing an intervention. “There were blockades, de facto roadblocks and the throwing of elements. In the afternoon, the lifeless body of a young man from Costayaco arrived at the municipal hospital. ..The officer denied that the shots had come from the police.. the command of the army’s 27th Brigade assured that the troops “were attacked by a mob of indigenous people and other demonstrators, who tried to forcefully and violently enter the installations” of the multinational Gran Tierra Energy. The institution claims that 1,200 people attacked with stones, sticks and firebombs to intimidate the employees and wounded five soldiers and one officer…The company is assessing the damage and to avoid an accident that could put the population at risk, they have closed their valves…Colonel Gelvez assured that the intermittent closures on the road that connects Cauca with Putumayo will continue. “
“…The corporation estimates that, in the midst of the strike, the damage to judicial infrastructure amounts to $1.8 billion nationwide, not counting the destruction of the Palace of Justice in Tuluá… This building had been vandalised on 28 and 29 April, when the façade was destroyed, files were burnt and technological equipment and furniture were stolen. The purpose of this new building is to provide decent conditions for the users of justice in the population,” explained the Judiciary. According to magistrate Gloria López, president of the corporation, 40 computers, 23 printers and some scanners were stolen during the first days of attacks on the Facatativá judicial headquarters. … the headquarters had already suffered more than $650 million worth of damage earlier in the month… the Social Development headquarters in Facatativá, where, among other things, the municipality’s COVID-19 vaccines are stored, was also vandalised. ..The attack on the Facatativá courthouse came four days after people set fire to and almost completely destroyed the courthouse in Tuluá (Valle del Cauca) on 25 May. It is still unclear who or what organisation may have been behind the attack and, for now, it appears that thousands of valuable documents were lost in the flames, prompting courts, tribunals and judicial bodies to call for an end to the attacks on their headquarters.”
“Four deaths, vandalism against MIO stations, damaged traffic lights, a CAI [police station] and burnt vehicles are the balance of the violent day of demonstrations in Cali. Authorities decreed a curfew to control the situation…Citizens speak of hours of terror due to the riots caused by hooded persons who attacked with stones the Icetex [a state entity that promotes higher education through the granting of educational credits] headquarters, located in Calle 13 A # 100 – 35, south of Cali. Similarly, the CAI in Ciudad Jardín was targeted by hooded men who set fire to it. Another target, which demonstrated the lack of public order, was the fire at the Andrés Sanín bus terminal, where the vandals who set the fire did not allow the firemen to enter the park to control the flames. The death of three people in the La Luna sector of the city is also under investigation by the Public Prosecutor’s Office. According to what was revealed by the Fiscalía, one of the deceased was a member of the CTI who was identified as Fredy Bermúdez and was identified by the public as responsible for having shot dead two demonstrators who were at the site. The community, enraged by the incident, chased and lynched him, taking justice into their own hands. In this regard, the Attorney General of the Nation, Francisco Barbosa, confirmed that the CTI officer was the one who shot at protesters in the sector of the Moon, causing the death of two of them, with his gun and made the clarification that Bermudez was on leave and not serving as presumed by the community…..A first report from the Unified Command Post in the capital of Valle del Cauca indicates that vandals are operating in both the south and east of the city. The MIO [rapid bus transit system] stations in Calypso, Andrés Sanìn and Pampalinda were attacked, and even the vaccination campaign against covid in another sector, in Nuevo Latir, had to be suspended as one of the hooded men prevented citizens from entering. .. two patrolmen were seriously injured. This midday the anti-riot forces are trying to control the vandals, especially in the south of Cali, which forced the closure of MIO operations. In Popayán, demonstrators threw firebombs at the mayor’s office of the municipality. …In the course of the day’s protests, vandals took advantage of the situation to set fire to vehicles in the transit yards. …Meanwhile in Cartagena, blockades began at 4:00 a.m. in the industrial zone of Mamonal on behalf of communities near this sector of the city and workers’ centres. .. In Ibagué, demonstrators pulled down the monument to Andrés López de Galarza…”
“…officials of the Mayor’s Office who sought to mediate between the police and the protesters were threatened with knives by violent demonstrators.”
“…a group of delinquents entered the SITP yard, reportedly stole several bicycles and tried to burn the parked buses.”
“…, at least three uniformed members of the Esmad were injured and later taken to hospital with trauma to the abdomen, thorax and mild cranioencephalic trauma.”
“A group of demonstrators attacked the facilities of a chain store and the command of the metropolitan police of Cúcuta”
“In the confrontation between demonstrators and Esmad, tear gas was thrown and vandalism took over the protest, graffitiing and breaking windows and walls of the CAI [police station] of Coolechera,… the walls were painted with signs saying: ‘Assassins’, ‘Puppets of the State’, while the vandals threw stones and destroyed the infrastructure of the institution’s command. Similarly, the authorities recorded disturbances that significantly compromised the headquarters of the local mayor’s office in the south-east of Barranquilla. In addition to being vandalised, the mayor’s office was ransacked despite the fact that several neighbours of the sector tried to prevent its destruction. Faced with the impossibility of stopping the vandalism, the local mayor, Mauricio Rosales, reported that public officials managed to leave while the protest was still peaceful to prevent them from suffering damage to their integrity. According to Rosales, the façade and the structure of the mayor’s office were left in a very bad state and everything inside was taken, including computers, chairs and other office equipment. During the protests in Barranquilla, the passenger of a bus affiliated to the Sobusa company was also injured, as the vehicle was attacked with stones and sticks, regardless of the fact that there were citizens inside. In addition… the vandals also tried to enter the police school…With the intervention of police and Esmad uniforms, the public forces tried to stop the destruction that was evident during the riots in the Simón Bolívar neighbourhood, which also involved the theft of technological equipment from the district entity’s facilities.”
“The Eclipse Motel was the target of the fury of several people …police officers were guarding the site….motel was ransacked. The motel’s gate was set on fire, it was damaged, firemen managed to control the fire, but afterwards nobody was able to control the entry of several people who even took television sets. …A vehicle passing over the Thousand Days Bridge was set on fire. The demonstrators were allegedly shooting at protesters from the car, who said on video that there were “infiltrated police” in the car…The car was burned to the ground. The driver managed to get out and flee the scene. So far it is not known who attacked the police station in El Guabal, in the south of Cali, bursts of gunfire were heard. From the impacts on the walls of the place, it is presumed that it could be a high-powered weapon such as a miniuzi.”
Cali: “…in the Colombian city of Cali, became the object of strong clashes between protesters and the police at dawn this Saturday, which left one agent dead and two more injured, according to reported the director of the Colombian National Police, Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia. As for the number of injured among civilians, an estimated six, but the official figures have not yet been revealed, reported National Radio of Colombia…The deceased agent is the 22-year-old patrol officer of the Carabineros Directorate Juan Sebastián Briñez, who received a bullet in the chest and died from the severity of the wound in a hospital..In addition, two members of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (Esmad) were “seriously injured” during the clashes, according to Vargas Valencia. Patrolman Marlon Araujo, 33, had a gunshot wound to his left arm, while patrolman Andrés Felipe Santoyo, 22, was hit in the right foot.”
Bogota: “The Secretary of Government of Bogotá, Luis Ernesto Gómez, was hit in the face with a stone in the midst of new disturbances that occurred in the Portal Americas…At midnight, some vandals broke the windows to enter the Supercade de las Américas and took some computers. ..Gomez… also indicated that “once again the night comes and a few violent people start throwing stones in Portal Americas despite the fact that there is no police intervention. While I was filming, a stone knocked down my mobile phone”.
Popayan: “The offices of the Attorney General’s Office and the Institute of Legal Medicine were also destroyed and looted. Seized files, vehicles, weapons and drugs were incinerated and stolen. Traffic signs, street lighting, ATMs and a telecommunications company were also destroyed.”
Bucaramanga: “Several people attacked the CAI [police station] in the sector with stones and other elements. The Bucaramanga police reported that there were no injuries because the officers who were in the CAI managed to leave in time. The individuals who carried out the vandalism then went on to attack a bank on Carrera 27. Other commercial establishments and traffic lights were also affected. Firefighters went to the premises to extinguish the fire.”
Cartago: “a tank of the Cartago Fire Brigade was burnt.”
“…In a country where the majority worked precarious jobs in an informal economy, now devastated by the pandemic and government restrictions, this strike is less about not going to work than about actively shutting everything down. Blockades have managed to halt commerce in many cities, but they serve a double role: these points are also where people gather and experiment with new ways of living together and caring for one another, outside of dictates of capitalism and the state. Murals, dances, barricades, nurses, steaming pots of food, shields, and conversation between neighbors are all equally important to this uprising. Knowledge and skills have been shared between movements with decades of experience and young rebels on the front line. People combine courageous expressions of joy and care with an iron determination to fight…”
Tucuman: “A man’s wake in Tucumán province was the scene of an afternoon of madness. Police officers who arrived at the scene, following a 911 call, were met with stones and bullets.”
Medellin: “An official of the Mayor’s Office was assaulted and robbed and in the midst of the vandalism in the area, three traffic lights were destroyed, 30 fences of the CAI of La Macarena [a police station] and even four briefcases of the Secretariat of Mobility were taken.”
El Pasto:“A group of demonstrators attacked the headquarters of the governor’s office of this department, located on a corner of the Plaza de Nariño, with fire and stones. The events were recorded in several videos. In the recordings, it can be seen how these people break down the entrance of the building and throw objects such as sticks, while a cloud of gas spreads around the place. Another video shows a man scaling the façade, while others break glass…Almost simultaneously, another group of hooded youths attacked the façade of the Pasto Mayor’s Office, located in the traditional sector of San Andrés, with stones and all kinds of objects.”
Caldas: “These blockades have also affected the inter-municipal transporters, who claim that the losses exceed 15 billion pesos and leave some companies on the verge of bankruptcy.”
“The riots in the Colombian municipality of Yumbo (southwest) left at least two dead and 48 wounded in the last 24 hours, nine of them policemen…Colonel Édgar Vega, operational commander of the Cali police, said that “nine policemen were injured, including one by firearm and another by traumatic weapon”, while 39 civilians were taken to medical centres in the area and “two people died”….the disturbances… began when some people attacked a police station, which provoked clashes between citizens and led to the intervention of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (Esmad), which is accused of responding with excessive violence. An explosion was also reported last night near the headquarters of the state oil company Ecopetrol, without details of what happened…The protests in Colombia, which began on 28 April against the government’s already withdrawn tax reform, also demand, among other issues, an end to police brutality, which social organisations such as Temblores blame for 43 homicides.”.
“Two marches were reported on Tuesday, one was that of the indigenous minga that arrived at the La Alpujarra Administrative Centre, where they protested for several hours with their dances and cultural activities typical of their communities, and then left without disturbing public order. But in nearby areas some people committed acts of vandalism, damaging and knocking down some traffic lights and security cameras. In total they destroyed eight traffic lights, ten traffic signs and at least ten security fences, according to the report from the Medellín mayor’s office, which led to the intervention of the Esmad and confrontations with some people. “They even managed to loot some elements of a work of the Digital University in the Plaza la Libertad. Then in Carabobo and San Juan we had to deploy the National Police to disperse them in the face of the vandalism that was taking place,” added the Medellín security secretary, Gerardo Acevedo.”
“At least two people died and more than 10 were injured in the latest clashes with law enforcement in Colombia’s western municipality of Yumbo…demonstrators attacked law enforcement officers with handmade explosive devices on Monday and there were six injured police officers. The house of the mayor of Yumbo, Jhon Jairo Santamaria, was also attacked with stones….According to Colombian human rights officials, about 50 people have died amid the protests, including one police officer, while nearly 600 have been injured.”
More here: “…you can see tyres and vehicles that were burned and left on the road to prevent people from passing….Videos of an explosion in Yumbo, Valle, near where protesters are blocking the road, have been broadcast on social networks. At the moment there are no official reports of injuries. Initial reports claim that the explosion took place between the Primax fuel substation and the Ecopetrol headquarters, which could endanger the communities living in the area.”
La Plata: “…In the municipality of La Plata, Huila, clashes with the Esmad ended with the burning of the mayor’s office. The headquarters of the House of Justice and the Police Command were also attacked by hooded men.”
Caldas: “…demonstrations began at 11am yesterday morning and at around three o’clock in the afternoon a group of people retained three trucks, one from the Pilsen beer company and two more of the NPR type, creating a total blockade of the La Variante de Caldas road, which caused heavy congestion…”Subsequently they began to generate restrictions by fences, they burnt two tyres, they also damaged traffic signs…However, after the order was given to clear the national roads, riots began between demonstrators and members of Esmad…As a result of the disturbances there was some damage to the infrastructure of the local sports institute, as well as damage to fences, tents and the municipality’s flagship sign with the message ‘I love Caldas’.”
“Feminist organisations in Colombia demonstrated on Saturday against the sexual aggression perpetrated by police officers against women in the framework of the National Strike, which is now in its 18th day in the country. Hundreds of women in various regions of the country demonstrated with banners, artistic expressions such as dances and even small plays, where they demanded justice for victims of sexual abuse from the government led by Iván Duque. Although in several areas no new developments were reported, in the city of Tunja (capital of the department of Boyacá) police repression against the marchers was denounced, videos published on social networks illustrate the moment in which a group of security forces attacked the women…According to the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Temblores in Colombia there have been 12 cases of sexual abuse against women, however, the recent report by the Red de Derechos Humanos del Suroccidente de Colombia “Francisco Isaías Cifuentes” (REDFIC), reports 14 new cases, bringing the total number of victims of sexual aggression to 26. REDFIC specifies that the 14 new cases of sexual abuse are distributed as follows: 11 in the department of Valle del Cauca and three in the city of Popayán (capital of the department of Cauca). “However, it is essential to point out that, from 28 April to 13 May, we have been able to register in the REDFIC that out of a total of 209 people captured, 52 have been women, another 19 have been injured and 15 are still missing”, the report details. The document reveals that feminist organisations have denounced members of the police who intimidate women who participate in the marches with actions such as sexual touching, abusive sexual acts, insults, violent carnal access, cruel and degrading treatment…”
“… Heavy riots occurred in the sector of Cartagenita… Different videos shared on Twitter showed the use of force by the Esmad. Users shared how tanks, gas and agents with weapons took over some neighbourhoods in this sector without any kind of authorisation…it can be seen how the Esmad tanks throw the stun bombs that clear the demonstrators.. “…They violated all the human rights they had not yet violated. They attack with non-conventional weapons in a residential area (children, elderly, pregnant women), they enter without the authorisation of the mayor …They didn’t even respect the children in the neighbourhoods…”….a new case of looting of a beer truck that had to be parked in the middle of the blockades of demonstrators in Facatativá. In the video, shared among others by the governor of Cundinamarca, Nicolás García Bustos, it can be seen how different people begin to remove the crates from a truck that distributes beer. They calmly arrive one by one to take the baskets and distribute them to other people. Some even leave them in the middle of the street and then come back for others. According to Noticias Caracol, the looting took place after the demonstrators argued with the driver because of the blockade and then decided to tear the tent covering the car to remove the beer baskets…” See also this
Bucamaranga: “The Defence for Freedom Campaign reports that seven people were injured and around 70 people required medical assistance following the disturbances outside the Romelio Martínez stadium between demonstrators and the police, in the context of a new ‘anti-game’ protest against the Copa Libertadores. Nearly 200 units of the Esmad police arrived on board two riot police cars and with jets of water and tear gas repelled the attempt of a group of demonstrators to approach the stadium, in a struggle that lasted from six in the afternoon until the end of the match. A total of two thousand uniformed officers were required in the area, and four people were arrested at the end of the day for stealing computers and televisions from the affected premises…Although the protest initially took place peacefully, with a game of football in the middle of the street, tempers flared when the large number of police arrived. The situation meant that for the second night in a row, the match went ahead amidst tear gas detonations, which the wind blew a large quantity of tear gas over the stadium while the match was in progress, for which reason it had to be suspended four times. Meanwhile, a pitched battle was taking place in the streets at the hands of young people who wanted to show the world their dissatisfaction with the social situation in the country. …the most serious aspect of the day was the alleged aggression by the police against members of the medical mission and human rights defenders….. video footage showed members of the riot squad firing tear gas directly at them, despite the fact that they identified themselves as people outside the protest. “One of the medical mission was hit by a police motorbike that ran over his legs and another was hit in the ribs. The people were immediately taken away by ambulance”
“Since Friday afternoon, heavy disturbances have been registered in the south of Popayán between demonstrators and uniformed members of the National Police. …Hooded men attempted to set fire to the headquarters of the Immediate Reaction Unit, URI, of the Attorney General’s Office, located in the south of the capital of Cauca. They also attempted to vandalise a police school….In Santander, a group of demonstrators also attacked the URI headquarters of the Attorney General’s Office. Dozens of people in these places are demanding clarification of the arrest of Alison Meléndez, the young woman who denounced sexual abuse by uniformed members of the Esmad and hours later took her own life. ….in Popayán, demonstrators knocked down the monument to Francisco de Paula Santander at the INEM roundabout. They also knocked down the monument ‘Edificadores de paz’ which paid homage to the policemen at the entrance to the Cauca command…On Friday night disturbances were reported in the sector of Cabecera and Nuevo Sotomayor in Bucaramanga. There, hooded men set fire to several banks and vandalised the CAI of the sector. In addition, vandals attacked a Metrolínea bus on Avenida González Valencia and Calle 55. Witnesses claim that the protesters forced the passengers to get off the bus and attacked it with stones. They threw fuel on the bus, but did not set it on fire. …Despite the shortage of food, fuel and medicines in some cities and municipalities in the country, blockades persist on some Colombian roads this Friday. In the case of Cundinamarca, three protest activities were reported. In Facatativá in the Romboy Cartagenita sector, in Villa Alba and in Medina in the Cruce Medina – Paratebueno sector… in Facatativá looting is being recorded against vehicles detained by protesters blocking the road….Cali: disruptions on the roads in the capital of Valle del Cauca persist this Friday. In the north of the city there were blockades in Loma de la Cruz and Hotel La Luna, in the south there were blockades on Calle 5 with Carrera 94 and Calle 13 with Carrera 100 and demonstrations on the Via Cali – Jamundí; and in the west, blockades occurred in the area of El Ancla and La Portada al mar. … the authorities are investigating the events in which two policemen were attacked with firearms in the municipality of Buga, in the centre of Valle del Cauca. According to the investigations, the wounded are two members of the Mobile Anti-riot Squadron, who were shot and due to the seriousness of their wounds were taken to the San Francisco clinic in the municipality of Tuluá, where they are recovering from their injuries. “In the sector of Conjunto Residencial Uninorte, more than 1,500 people went out to attack the public forces, in the midst of this, two officers were wounded by firearms and in the armoured tankette that they were driving…”
“While demonstrators held a peaceful sit-in in a new day of protests at the Portal de Las Américas and in the Chicalá neighbourhood in Bosa de Bogotá, a group of vandals got out of control and provoked several disturbances on Tuesday night. According to videos and witnesses, these anti-socials attacked several elements of the common good such as traffic lights …The security cameras recorded how several subjects approached the luminous signalling devices and sprayed a flammable liquid on them and then approached them with a torch to burn them, without caring about the serious danger they were exposing themselves to. In another video, the vandals are seen attempting to climb to the top of a traffic light pole with the intention of burning it to the ground. It is also known that these provocateurs of public disorder also destroyed and burned the bins installed in several streets, and also broke the pavements to throw these heavy pieces of stones against the police that were guarding the Portal de las Américas….In the face of these events, Transmilenio was forced to cancel its services at the few stations that operate in the trocal de las Américas, making it difficult for thousands of people returning home from work at night…”
“There is anxiety among the community, as protests turned violent and even attacked banks…On Wednesday afternoon, as part of the national strike, a group of people wearing hoods attacked the mayor’s office in Popayán in Caldas Park, in the city centre. In Neiva, meanwhile, vandals attacked a public service bus….The roof of the Tunía (Cauca) tollbooth is demolished, blocking the south of the country….In addition to the attack on the mayor’s office in the capital of Cauca, protesters burned two benches near the sector…In a video posted on social media, a hooded man throws a device at one of the windows of the building and then the flames can be seen…On Wednesday afternoon, hooded men set fire to a public service bus affiliated to the Autobuses company, in events that took place in the sector of the interchange of the Surcolombiana University in Neiva, Huila. Witnesses said that around 3 p.m. at least five vandals stopped two buses and made the passengers get off to proceed to burn one of the vehicles, which burned to the ground…The conflagration, which left no injuries but the vehicle was totally lost, was dealt with by firefighters who controlled the emergency. The authorities have offered a cash reward of 20 million pesos to anyone who provides information leading to the identification and capture of the perpetrators.”
Barranquilla: “A sit-in that lasted several hours in the vicinity of the Romelio Martínez stadium ended in riots. The protesters demanded the cancellation of the match to be played at 7:00 p.m. between Junior and River Plate of Argentina. Demonstrators calling for the cancellation of the match clashed with the police. The Esmad intervened using stun guns and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators….After a group of protesters managed to get through the first security filter that the police set up around the stadium, some people clashed with members of the security forces. In videos circulating on social networks it can be seen that agents of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squadron (Esmad) use stunners and tear gas to disperse the hundreds of people who were asking local authorities and Conmebol to cancel the Copa Libertadores match…According to the president’s announcement, at midday a large security cordon was deployed around the stadium. As a result of this operation, thousands of demonstrators gathered at the venue to oppose the match…”
“…riots and clashes in the centre of Bogota. A group of people tore down the fences separating the Plaza de Bolivar from the Capitol and then attacked the building with stones and other objects, and tried to enter while Congress was in session, something that was prevented by the Esmad, who dispersed the attack with tear gas…A motorbike goes up in flames..A protester attacks a bank during a new day of demonstrations in Bogota…Thousands of people returned to the streets of Colombia on Wednesday to take part in the second “national strike” in protest against the government of Ivan Duque, who today began talks with different political, economic and social sectors, but without inviting leaders of the protesters or the opposition… at least 19 dead and 800 injured by repression in five days of protests against tax reform. ..Bogota mayor calls for army deployment in the face of tonight’s violent protests. The demonstrations began on 28 April against the Colombian government’s already withdrawn tax reform and continue today, among other things, in rejection of police brutality,which according to the NGO Temblores has claimed the lives of 37 people in the last eight days…On the eve of the “national strike” called by trade unions and workers’ centres against the health reform, at least 72 civilians and 19 police officers were injured in a riot in Bogotá in which vandals attacked 23 police stations, one of which was set on fire with 10 officers inside who managed to get to safety…Duque brings tanks and military onto Colombia’s streets, stoking unrest at protests |…A group of people tore down the fences separating the Plaza de Bolivar from the Capitol and then attacked the building with stones and other objects, and tried to enter while Congress was in session, something that was prevented by the Esmad, who dispersed the onslaught with tear gas.”.
“During the day of protests that continued in the city of Barranquilla in the afternoon, there were disturbances of public order where vandals looted commercial premises and led clashes with the Esmad.”
“During this eighth day of protests several clashes between authorities and demonstrators are recorded in different parts of the country’s capital…. Duque announces $10 million reward for vandals and rejects violence in national strike…One of the most critical points is the Plaza de Bolivar. There, a group of protesters clashed with Esmad troops.The NotiCentro 1 CM& news team recorded how a police motorbike was left on Carrera 9 and Calle 12, near Plaza de Bolívar, after it was burnt. Similarly, in the centre of Bogotá in the afternoon the situation was complicated when demonstrators and authorities clashed on the main road.”
“One of the most reprehensible events was the damage caused to the statue of Peter Manjarrez [a singer of corny popular folk music, still alive] located at the roundabout of the Transport Terminal, from where the protesters took Simon Bolivar Avenue and clashed with the Esmad. It was a reprehensible act, the right arm of the sculpture of the singer Peter Manjarrés was torn off. More than a hundred young people who were carrying out a protest arrived at the roundabout and destroyed part of the monument of the ‘Caballero del Vallenato’.”
Police station torched, Bogota
“A mob set fire to a police station in Bogotá on Tuesday, with 10 officers inside who managed to escape the flames..According to the authorities, the Police Immediate Attention Centre (CAI) in the La Aurora neighbourhood, in the south of the city, was set on fire when there were 10 officers inside, five of whom were injured. …The Secretary of Government of Bogotá, Luis Ernesto Gómez, assured that 16 CAI have been “vandalised” in Bogotá, including the one in La Aurora. “At this hour there is an escalation of violence in the city, here in Biblioteca Tintal they have just incinerated a SITP (Integrated Public Transport System) bus and in other parts of the city,” …The clashes between the uniformed police and the police in Bogotá began in the afternoon in various sectors in the south of the city and spread to other areas where social organisations have denounced the excesses of the Esmad during the night. One of the most difficult situations is being experienced in Portal Americas, in the west of the city, where clashes have lasted for hours, at least three people have been injured and a bus was burned, according to the authorities. There were also disturbances in the Castilla neighbourhood, where demonstrators were repressed by the Esmad and the CAI was also attacked. In other cities such as Cali (southwest), where an unknown number of people have died during the protests, clashes continued despite the fact that five people died …” – here
“…The final straw that set off the protests we saw this April was the proposal of the so-called “Solidarity Financing Law,” a tax reform that will impoverish the majority of the population. Under the pretext of reducing the deficit that it had created with the last reform, Duque’s administration came up with the terrible idea of increasing the cost of living in one of the most unequal countries in the world. It’s shocking that in the midst of a crisis, the Colombian government would decide to raise food taxes for the lower and middle classes. It makes no sense to raise the price of food when the population is going hungry. It is even more outrageous that the proposed reforms will not only harm everyday people but further enrich the country’s wealthiest monopolies…laws are approved behind closed doors, without public debate. One of the most obvious examples of this is the legal reform that will make changes to the Colombian healthcare system. Introduced on March 16th, 2021, it has still not been passed by Congress, but its supporters in the legislature pulled secretive moves the night of April 26 to try to push it through while attention was fixed on the tax reform. This health reform could be worse than COVID-19 itself. Essentially, it is intended to implement the full privatization of the Colombian healthcare system. We will have to pay coverage fees for pathology, or the EPS (Colombia’s public health insurance) will deny us medical attention. People who require medical attention through the EPS will have to demonstrate that they are taking good care of themselves and did nothing to cause their illness or injury; if their insurance provider can prove otherwise, it will be able to deny them coverage, forcing them to pay out of pocket. This program is also intended to end public municipal vaccination programs—at the peak of the pandemic!—and to give insurance providers authority to decide how to offer these services and to whom. This reform would allow multinationals and transnational pharmaceutical companies to impose prices and market rules for healthcare in Colombia. It would end health insurance discounts for those in professions including education, manufacturing, and the armed forces. Hospitals will have to demonstrate results in a proposal gruesomely similar to the “results” that the Uribe government demanded of soldiers, which resulted in over 10,000 “false positives”—the practice of extrajudicial execution in which the government and military kidnapped and murdered young people, then falsely reported them as FARC-EP combatants in order to fill quotas. Similarly, it’s estimated that the current health law that privatized the health system in 1993 has led to one million deaths through lack of medical attention or negligence, inflicting even more casualties than the armed conflict…on May 1, attendance in the protests exceeded all expectations and many other cities joined in. By this point, demonstrations were taking place in more than 500 cities across the country. Our memory from other difficult struggles, passed down to us from other times by our parents and grandparents, reminds us that when the people unite, there is no power more transformative. Through their police abuse complaint platform “GRITA,” by 11 pm on May 1, the human rights organization Temblores had received reports of 940 complaints of police violence, 92 victims of physical police violence, 21 people murdered by the police, four victims of sexual abuse at the hands of police officers, and 12 people shot in the eye by police…”
“The protesters, according to El Tiempo, claim that it is no longer just about the tax reform or the resignation of the Finance Minister. They say they want changes to the health reform and are seeking a fairer society, after people reported cases of abuse of authority.”
“Several unknown persons stoned three Transcaribe stations,… as well as the windows of banks and other entities were also vandalised…Transcaribe strongly rejected the attacks suffered during the demonstrations when unknown persons attacked the Centro, Chambacú and Lo Amador stations with stones and blunt objects, destroying their windows. The operation of the mass transport system had to be suspended. First because of the taxi drivers’ strike that caused chaos in a large part of the city, and then because of the protests that continue tonight.”
“Among the vandalised buildings are the Huila Governor’s Office, the Departmental Assembly and the Neiva Mayor’s Office, as well as commercial establishments and banks in the city centre that have been burnt down….They also entered a dealership located on the premises of the Éxito de la Plaza Cívica and stole several motorbikes, six of which have already been recovered by the police.”
“Despite the fact that the government of President Duque withdrew the tax reform, protests against the national government continued this Sunday in Quindío. Security disturbances in the centre of Armenia due to infiltrators in the protest with the intention of attacking commerce … occurred this Sunday night. The timely reaction of the authorities, with tear gas, controlled the situation, after acts of vandalism in the midst of protests that completed their fifth day. The disturbances reached the mayor’s building itself, where the demonstrators threw stones and pebbles, causing some windows to break. The situation was brought under control and the demonstrators were dispersed. Some shops were affected by the demonstrators who damaged the windows of some supermarkets and chain stores with stones, including D1 in the centre of Armenia. In social networks some videos have been published in which a sector of the protesters, recognized neighborhood leaders, call for calm and peaceful protest. On Sunday morning, motorcyclists and other protesters gathered in the Plaza Bolivar in Armenia and made a tour of some municipalities, which caused road blockages in some sectors, especially in La Tebaida, Quimbaya, Montenegro, Circasia and Filandia along the Autopista del Café. In Armenia there was a caravan and some road closures…In Montenegro, the entrance to the town was blocked with barricades and burning tyres to prevent vehicular traffic moving from Armenia, …where the Armenia mayor’s office is located are guarded and under strict security measures by the authorities. For its part, Armenia’s government secretary Gloria Cecilia García reported that vandals infiltrated the student march and damaged lamps in the Plazoleta de la Quindianidad, or CAM, the police inspectorate and supermarkets in the sector. A patrolman was injured with a stone in the foot and a security guard from the Familias en Acción office was hit with a stick in the shoulder, fortunately nothing serious.”
“Demonstrations continue this Saturday in several cities across the country as part of the fourth day of the national strike against the tax reform, as well as the commemoration of Labour Day. Despite the organisers’ assurances that this day’s demonstrations would take place virtually, in accordance with the restrictions imposed by the third peak of the pandemic, citizens took to the streets. This is how the demonstrations are going in Bogotá, Cali, Medellín and other cities in the country this May 1st: 8:30 p.m. The mayor’s office of Usaquén reports that in the midst of the protests in the sector, Jaime Vargas, mayor of Usaquén, and his team, were assaulted, insulted and beaten with stones. “We reject all types of violence and call for peaceful dialogue,” the organisation said. 8:15 p.m. Citizens report that in the midst of the disturbances near the Industrial University of Santander, the lights have been turned off and the city of Bucaramanga is militarised. 7:50 p.m. In the midst of the tense day of protests that is lived this Saturday still in several areas of the country, President Ivan Duque addressed the Colombians. He said he recognises those who are demonstrating peacefully, however, he issued a warning to those who have been vandalising and carrying out violent acts during the protests: “We are not going to allow de facto ways, the destruction of public and private property or the message of hate to have a place in our country. As a society and as a state, we have a responsibility to move the country forward together,” he said. … TransMilenio informs that … and in order to safeguard the safety of users and system employees, operations have been definitively cancelled for today. 7:25 p.m. In Santa Marta, a blockade continues on the Troncal del Caribe road, preventing the passage of vehicles to the department of La Guajira. Tyre burning and some vandalism are reported. 7:05 p.m. Transmilenio reports that today at 6:00 p.m., 42 buses between trunk and zone are affected, one of them burned and 3 stations were vandalized. Likewise, the entity points out that in the afternoon a fire was reported on a SITP zonal bus on Carrera 68 and Calle 3….7:00 p.m. At this hour in the capital of the country, there are disturbances in the street 145 with career Seventh. 6:25 p.m. Transmilenio reports that at this time there is no passage at any point, “the operation is cancelled on all the trunk lines of the system due to the lack of security guarantees for users,” says the entity….6:15 p.m. At this time there are clashes between demonstrators who obstructed the passage on Carrera 10 and Calle 13 and the Esmad [riot police]. 6:12 p.m. Heavy clashes are registered between the Esmad and the demonstrators in the centre of the city (Carrera 10 con calle 13) and in the north of the capital (Cedritos and Carrera 7 con calle 134). 6:10 p.m. The mayor’s office of Barranquilla reported that the episodes related to vandalism in the sector of the Circunvalar Avenue with the Cordialidad were controlled by police units, leaving as a result 13 people arrested during the demonstrations of this May 1 in the city. 6:00 p.m. Due to demonstrations at the time, the TransMilenio System is operating at 20% of its Troncal component. The entity informs that most stations are temporarily closed until the fleet is able to pass through and the safety of users and buses is guaranteed. The company also reports that the El Dorado and Portal Norte terminals have been cancelled. These are the routes that will not be able to operate due to blockades by demonstrators: Troncal Caracas, Troncal Suba, Troncal Calle 80, Troncal NQS Central, Troncal Américas, Troncal NQS South, Trunk Trunk Caracas Sur, Trunk Trunk Eje Ambiental, Troncal Carrera 10, Troncal Carrera 7….4:50 p.m. In Pasto, in the south of the country, a group of demonstrators demolish the statue of Antonio Nariño that was located in the main square. 4:40 p.m. In Bogotá there are confrontations between demonstrators and the security forces on Avenida de las Américas and Avenida Ciudad de Cali. 4:20 p.m. In the city of Bogotá, disturbances are reported on Carrera 7 and Calle 142. Demonstrators say that the Esmad prevented the march from passing, which was proceeding peacefully. 4:15 p.m. Clashes begin to be reported between the Esmad and the demonstrators in the Plaza de Bolivar in the centre of Bogota. 4:00 p.m. Citizens report through social networks peaceful demonstrations in various parts of the city of Medellin….3:30 p.m. The mayor of Santiago de Cali, Jorge Iván Ospina Gómez, analysed the public order situation in the city and deeply regretted the death of two people, in events that occurred during Friday’s protests and in the framework of the national strike. “A message of solidarity with their families and the most sincere condolences from the Mayor’s Office of Cali. It is a very painful and intolerant situation from any point of view,” he said. 3:20 p.m. Citizens report the intervention of the Esmad in the concentration of the march located in the Plaza de Bolivar, downtown Bogota. 3:00 p.m. The Medellín Metro announced that the service will be completely suspended from 6:00 p.m. Tomorrow, Sunday, May 2, it will open its usual schedule, said Esteban Restrepo, Medellín’s Secretary of Government. The decision, according to the official, was taken in order to avoid damage to the system in the midst of the protests….”
Cali: “Cali is the city in the country where there have been the most violent incidents during the national strike protests. Despite today’s curfew in the capital of Valle, riots broke out again. The marches blocked the road to Alfonso Bonilla Aragon airport for hours, affecting travellers arriving and departing the city. …A Comando de Atención Inmediata (CAI) in the Punta Rellena sector was attacked today, but no police officers were affected. Interior Minister Daniel Palacios said that Thursday’s violence was not marches “but organised vandalism aimed at affecting citizens”.
El Pasto: “…citizens were prosecuted for violence against public servants, damage to property and theft,” they explained. They also reported that eight banking institutions were affected, in addition to payment institutions, six public buildings, eight commercial premises, two churches and a police facility.”
“During protests last Wednesday, seven young people, including teenagers, died after being shot in Bogota. Three other people died in connection with the protests last Thursday night, including a woman who was hit by a stolen public bus.Three people were also killed in Soacha during the protests….In the past week, hundreds of civilians have been injured in clashes between protesters and police in Soacha and Bogota, with dozens wounded by gunshots in the capital. Close to 200 police officers were also injured, while at least 60 police stations were vandalized, as well as dozens of public transport vehicles
“Protesters again protested this Thursday in different areas of Bogotá and other cities in Colombia against police violence, although so far with less intensity than the day before, when the disorders left ten people dead. As yesterday, the target of the protests were the Commands for Immediate Action (CAI) [police substations] of the Police, which were attacked with stones and other objects and in some cases forced the intervention of anti-riot units.Again, the main point of concentration was the CAI of Villa Luz, in the west of Bogotá, where the two uniformed men involved in the death of lawyer Javier Ordóñez worked, whose death fueled street protests. Dozens of protesters arrived at that place who again threw objects at the police facility and in response to this situation, members of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (Esmad) fired tear gas to force them to retreat. One of the most tense situations was experienced in the Zona Franca neighborhood, in the neighbourhood of Fontibón, also in the west of Bogotá, where at first some neighbors formed a human chain to prevent a CAI from attacking. However, that did not prevent stones and sticks from falling against the infrastructure and a confrontation between the protesters and Esmad from breaking out…. people reported on social networks that there were soldiers who fired shots in the air. In the Verbenal neighborhood, in the north of Bogotá, where two of the young people killed in Wednesday’s riots lived, the protesters filled the CAI with sticks and flammable objects and set it on fire as on the previous night. In Bogotá, seven people lost their lives yesterday and three more died in excesses in the neighboring town of Soacha….There were also excesses in other areas such as the Portal del Norte and the traditional neighborhood 20 de Julio, in the south of the city, where the Esmad and the mob clashed. Due to “the security and mobility conditions due to the demonstrations unrelated to the operation that occur at this time in various sectors of the city”, the Mayor’s Office, with the “objective of safeguarding the life” of the inhabitants of Bogotá, decided to advance 11:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. local time the closing of the operation of the Transmilenio bus system. Another difficult situation was experienced in the San Fernando neighborhood of Cali, the main city in the south-west of the country, where vandals looted branches of BBVA and Banco de Bogotá, and broke glass in a station of the MIO bus system during clashes with the police. In Medellín, the protesters gathered in the Parque de los Deseos with the purpose of walking through several streets until they reached the Metropolitan Police Command of Valle de Aburrá. However, midway along the way, the police intervened and dispersed the crowd, which reached their destination in small groups to continue with a protest in which bank headquarters were attacked. In Barranquilla, a group staged disorders in the Plaza de la Paz shouting “Why are they killing us?” The scenes were repeated in other intermediate cities such as Cúcuta, which has the main border crossing with Venezuela; Manizales and Pereira, located in the central Coffee Axis, and Ibagué, capital of the Tolima department.”
“Colombia will keep troops on the streets to help police maintain order, President Ivan Duque said Saturday, after nationwide protests in the past two days degenerated into looting in some areas. Joint military-police patrols will continue…Bogota’s mayor Enrique Penalosa ordered a curfew last night after looting broke out in the south of the city. Rumors that the attacks had moved to the wealthier north led some people to form vigilante groups to protect their property….The demonstrations have been motivated by a range of issues, including the government’s education and labor policies, unsolved murders of social leaders and corruption. Unions said they’d convene another national demonstration Monday…On Friday, demonstrators chanted “Down with Duque!” and “Long live the national strike!” Thieves hijacked a city bus and used it to batter down the doors of a shuttered shop in the south of Bogota, allowing a mob of looters to enter…On Thursday, more than quarter of a million Colombians took part in the nation’s biggest protests in years.” (Video including bus hijacking here)
“Several protesters caused damage to the facilities of the Palacio de Liévano, in the historic center of Bogotá, shortly before the riot police launched tear gas against the crowd …clashes escalated in the vicinity of the Gran Estación shopping center…The National University, the Congress and the headquarters of the Colombian Institute of Educational Credit and Technical Studies Abroad (ICETEX) have also been the scene of clashes…In front of the ICETEX headquarters, a group of people tried to enter the premises using stones and ‘potato bombs’ (which are named after their resemblance to the tubers and may include nails, nuts and stones). At least four policemen were injured…The deterioration of pensions and salaries, breach of agreements with students, and the perennial situation of violence in the country – more than 160 social and union leaders have been killed so far this year – as well as the Government’s attempt to modify the peace agreement with the FARC in 2016, are the main reasons for the mobilizations…in the city of Cali the authorities have declared a curfew due to the riots and looting “
“Commuters in Bogotá and other cities faced long delays on Friday. Many of Bogotá’s bus stations were closed and police used tear gas in a least two parts of the city’s working class south in an attempt to clear road blockades. Several supermarkets in the area were looted and some protesters stole a public bus”
3 cops were killed in a bomb blast – which could possibly become a pretext for nipping this particular movement in the bud before it’s hardly got started; it’s likely to overshadow the killing of 3 protesters/looters earlier. More here“At least 151 security forces and 122 civilians were injured, “most of whom suffered minor injuries and tear gas inhalation.” Six people have been killed..Friday night’s curfew in Bogotá was the first of its kind there in 43 years.”
“Clashes have erupted between tens of thousands of student-led protesters and security forces on the outskirts of Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport and other parts of the Colombian capital. Flights have not been canceled, but passengers were forced to walk to the airport from nearby hotels to get past throngs of marchers early this morning. Anti-riot police known as Esmad are using tear gas to try to divert the protesters away from the airport. In the historic center of Bogota this morning, thousands of marchers had gathered peacefully under a steady rain in Bolivar Plaza. Unrest has now broken out there as well, with police tear gassing protesters and vandals attacking public transport, businesses and monuments as nightfall sets in. Elsewhere in Colombia, vandalism and looting in the southwest city of Cali prompted the city’s mayor to declare a curfew at 7pm ET this evening… Many schools and businesses across Colombia are closed today.”