Violent clashes as Bogota bus protests shut down Colombia’s capital

Protesters and police clashed violently in Bogota as demonstrations against poor bus service virtually shut down the city.

Hooded protesters robbed a Transmileno ticket office in Calle 45, and there were reports of looting and vandalism in other parts of the city.

Protesters threw stones at police, according to magazine La Semana, and a blockade of six Transmilenio bus routes continued across the city.

Students have been thought to be the main proponents of the protests, but the Colombian Student Organization Friday denied any involvement, according to Radio Santa Fe.

Bogota mayor Gustavo Petro called the protesters ‘thieves,” and blamed the previous administration for the disturbances on his Twitter account Friday.

“Behind this is a group from the previous administration that did not say anything when they signed a 23-year concession in areas of integrated public transport and said nothing when the cost of transport rose to 1.750 Colombian pesos,” he said.

The protesters blockaded bus routes last month out of frustration at poor service, particularly the lack of buses and connections in the Kennedy neighborhood.  They are also angry about the price of fares which, at 2.000 Colombian Pesos, many passengers deem too expensive.

The blockade is the largest in the 11-year history of the Transmilenio.

Petro said the protesters have become more “undignified,” and they are making conditions “unbearable for the 200,000 riders who use the system.”

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