Anti-government protests turn violent in Colombia, 35 arrested

colombia students protest

Thousands of people across Colombia are joining anti-government protests on Friday. At one stage, the protests turned violent in the capital of Bogota.

Media reports said:

Thousands of protesters marched in central Bogota to demonstrate against President Ivan Duque’s policies, which are destroying workers’ rights as well as the education system.

Masked demonstrators tore away nets protecting the metropolitan cathedral, which flanks central Bolivar Square, and painted slogans on its walls. They also threw stones at riot police, who retaliated with tear gas.

Police and students clashed at the entrance of Bogota’s National University. Around 35 people were arrested and 14 injured.

President Duque condemned what he said were acts of vandalism and violence in the protests in a tweet.

Protesters accused the Colombian president of not respecting all  provisions in the previous government’s 2016-peace deal with the former guerrilla group FARC, saying his policies have compromised the ongoing peace process that succeeded 52 years of internal conflict. Roughly 128 ex-militants have been killed since the signing of the treaty.

Police gun down ex-FARC guerrilla

At the behest of Colombia’s Carrizal community, an investigation has launched into the murder of former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla, Dimar Torres, who was killed by police Monday.

Along the Venezuelan border, Torres was making his way home with a group of friends after leaving his village to buy tools when police officers shot and killed him at an army checkpoint.

Although authorities have taken responsibility for the death, witnesses at the scene say police first attempted to blame the shooting on Torres, alleging he had attempted to seize an officer’s weapon.

Community members from the town of Convencion told: “This is extremely serious, and we request for social organizations to speak out about this.”

Carlos Lozada, senator of the FARC Party, said locals were startled by the sound of gunfire and were turned away by police. On walking into the police camp, they discovered a misshapen grave on the ground intended for the corpse of the former guerrilla.

The coroner confirms that the bullet that killed Dimar Torres, ex-combatant of the FARC, was shot by a weapon of the @COL_EJERCITO. A corporal said he wanted to snatch his gun, and in the struggle, he shot himself.

The Ministry of Defense is investigating the incident, although after over 125 murders of ex-militants, Lozada says it’s not enough. The FARC party official is demanding “full guarantees” for those who laid down their arms in order to proceed with the “reincorporation process” outlined in the 2016 Peace Accord.

Hermes Garcia Quintero, mayor of the municipality, told RCN Radio, “Around the death of Dimar Torres, ex-militant of the FARC, the community blames the military forces, believing that the uniformed men were caught by surprise and trying, apparently, to bury the body of this person, which caused the discomfort of the community.”

Lozada said he plans to contact the Peace Commission, the House, and the Senate to request they contact the communities to receive complaints, first-hand.

Since the signing of the Final Peace Accord in 2016, at least 128 members of the FARC have been killed in Colombia, says the director of the state institution Agency for Reincorporation and Normalization, Andres Stapper.

The peace agreement, supported by the United Nations and crafted with the help of several Latin American organizations, led to the disarmament of around 7,000 combatants and the emergence of the FARC political party.


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