A demonstrator throws a tear gas canister back at riot police during a protest at the National University as a national strike continues in Bogota, Colombia November 26, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez.
A demonstrator throws a tear gas canister back at riot police during a protest at the National University as a national strike continues in Bogota, Colombia November 26, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez.

Violence erupts again in Colombia ahead of nationwide protests

By By Sinikka Tarvainen Time of article published Nov 27, 2019

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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

reform.

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

morning.

With the violent protests, Colombia joined a wave of civil unrest in

South America that has swept Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia.

dpa

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