The coexistence and security secretary in Colombia’s capital Bogota said protests for the internationally celebrated Labor Day were “better than years past” and said that only 37 people were detained and 11 injured in the May 1 protests.
“There were some setbacks along the way,” said Coexistence and Security Secretary Edgar Ardila in report from El Tiempo Wednesday. “There were 11 people that had some type of injury but none of them serious … This year was much better than years past.”
Bogota’s health secretary reported 12 injuries in total, three of them police officers.
Eleven marches around the city ended in the capital’s political center Plaza Bolivar and after potato bombs were thrown by protesters, police came in with water tankers to break up the crowd. Police also reportedly seized two bottles of diesel fuel and one of gasoline during the marches that were monitored by some 300 cameras around the city.
Last year, police arrested almost 70 people during the Labor Day protests, most for carrying illegal or dangerous items while they marched. In 2010, over 200 people were arrested, multiple businesses were vandalized and protesters threw potato bombs, forcing event organizers to cancel a speech from current Bogota mayor and then presidential candidate, Gustavo Petro.
Colombia’s second city Medellin also saw a relatively calm protest for Labor Day. Medellin newspaper El Colombiano reported that 5,000 people marched to the city’s Parque de las Luces and transit police helped direct traffic in the area. Police reportedly broke up an altercation with a small group of radicals painting graffiti during the protest and a group of “skinheads.”
Most businesses were closed around Colombia and many people enjoyed the day off work as the country honored the international labor movement.