Violence erupts again in Colombia ahead of nationwide protests
Bogota - Violent protests erupted in Colombia on Tuesday ahead
of nationwide marches that have been called for the second time in
the space of a week.
Thousands of people in Bogota and other cities demonstrated against
economic reforms and the death on Monday of young protester Dilan
Cruz, who was shot in the head by police during clashes on Saturday.
Masked demonstrators clashed with security forces in Bogota and in
the city of Neiva, where a police officer was seriously injured,
broadcaster Caracol reported.
Protesters blocked several streets in Bogota, preventing bus traffic
and forcing residents to walk home.
The demonstrators are demanding the cancellation of planned tax and
other economic reforms, the end of killings of community leaders by
armed groups and the dismantling of the riot police Esmad, which they
accuse of brutal repression.
The South American country has seen six days of protests after an
estimated 250,000 people attended nationwide anti-government marches
on Thursday. Most of the rallies have been peaceful, but some of them
escalated into clashes with police, looting and acts of vandalism.
Four people have been killed.
Duque on Tuesday failed to make progress in talks with the National
Strike Committee, which called the protests and includes trade unions
and civil society organizations.
The committee refused to join a "national dialogue" that the
president has called with political and economic players, and
demanded exclusive talks with the government.
Duque on Tuesday announced changes to an upcoming tax reform,
including value added tax relief for low earners and reduced health
insurance payments for retired people on small pensions. But the
National Strike Committee wants the government to scrap the entire
Its 13 demands also include cancelling alleged plans for labour and
pension reforms, agreeing to not privatize state companies,
completing the implementation of the 2016 peace deal with the former
guerrilla group FARC, and measures to protect the environment.
Protesters were due to start marching nationwide on Wednesday
With the violent protests, Colombia joined a wave of civil unrest in
South America that has swept Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia.