Colombia’s anti-government protests grew to historic proportions in the capital Bogota on Saturday.
The protest was not organized by the leaders of recent national strikes, but drew a crowd so large that it was impossible to estimate how many people took part.
Colombian people have been on the streets fighting for their rights 18 days strong!
— Giovanny Verano (@Giovasummer) May 16, 2021
Unlike Friday’s violent uprising in the southwestern city of Popayan, the protests in Bogota were a peaceful response to recent brutality employed to quell the protest that started on April 28.
The sheer number of people on the streets virtually shut down Bogota’s mass transit system and occurred without notable incidents of violence.
The march here started 4.7km away, 8 hours earlier, on what is the 18th consecutive night of protest. This is the energy level:#Bogotá #Colombia #ParoNacional #ParoNacional15M pic.twitter.com/BSN3zZRt4D
— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) May 16, 2021
In the Fontibon neighborhood local artists performed a Colombian adaptation of Italian anti-fascist hymn Bella Ciao that was renamed “Duque Chao” and performed as a “Carranga,” one of the local dances.
¡Hyntiba resiste también desde la música! pic.twitter.com/UMoL2hqJqY
— Colectivo Kairós (@kairoscolectivo) May 16, 2021
Protests elsewhere in Colombia were by far not as as overwhelming as in Bogota, but taking place in every corner of the country.
En vigilancia al respeto a los derechos humanos estamos presentes en el plantón cultural convocado por los habitantes de las Comuna 13 en el marco del #ParoNacional15M. #SomosMediadores pic.twitter.com/e2cE0MA1Sr
— Personería de Medellín (@personeriamed) May 16, 2021
In Cali, which has suffered most police brutality over the past weeks, locals had turned an abandoned police post into a public library.
“The message is clear, we need more education and less violence,” said Senator Sandra Ramirez of the political party formed by former FARC guerrillas as part of a peace process in 2017.
Some poor neighborhoods in Colombia’s third largest city have expelled the police, which has been accused of terrorizing the city in an attempt to quell protests.
— Sandra Ramírez (@SandraComunes) May 15, 2021
The president has tried to negate the protests and strikes, but is set to sit down with the National Strike Committee.
This collective of social organizations called the April 28 strike that triggered the ongoing protests said Thursday that the first point on the agenda will be an end to the ongoing police brutality.
The talks will be accompanied by representatives of the United Nations and the Catholic Church.