Protests by transportation workers in the southwestern city of Cali resulted in the death of one man and injured at least nine civilians, reported local media on Thursday.
An employee for the bus company Coomoepal reportedly passed away Wednesday after receiving a fatal gunshot wound to the head amid violent protests across Colombia’s third largest city. It is not yet clear who is responsible for the man’s death.
The chaotic protests were reportedly demonstrating against the reduction of traditional bus routes in favor of a new standardized mass transport system called “MIO”. Protesters told Semana magazine that MIO does not sufficiently cover the transportation routes it was meant to absorb.
Protests raged all day Wednesday, stagnating at least 17 major transportation hubs that include entry and exits from city, said the Cali Mayor’s Office Thursday. The city’s airport was also inundated by protesters for at least ten hours yesterday resulting in the cancellation of several flights.
Despite the reported violence, the leader of the protests Arvey Hurtado, told El Pais that the protests would continue “peacefully” and blamed the violence on city security forces.
The Cali Mayor’s Office’s statement added that 70 buses had been vandalized and 14 minibuses had been made ineffective. Eleven people were arrested during the protests for vandalism.
Mayor of Cali Rodrigo Guerrero Velasco blamed the protests on a few “disgruntled” transportation workers and called the protests “a sad day for the city.”
Guerrero added “We guarantee that tomorrow the people of Cali will be able to move themselves, we will enforce the right of law to move freely throughout the city.”
Guerrero used the press release to defend the mass transit system, “For seven years Cali had the idea of developing an integrated mass transit system that in the end will reduce accidents and we have accomplished it.”
In February 2,000 protesters marched in Cali to demonstrate against Cali’s mass transit system which reportedly does not cover a number of the city’s periphery neighborhoods.
Cali, Valle del Cauca
- “Este 19 de marzo es un día triste, insólito e inexplicable para Cali”: alcalde Guerrero (Cali Mayor’s Office)
- Cali: vandalismo se aprovecha del paro (Semana)
- Cali vivió miércoles de tensión por caos y vandalismo en protestas de transportadores (El Pais)