Colombia’s police arrested dozens of anti-government protesters on Wednesday after traffic blocks triggered clashes with police in four of Colombia’s five largest cities.
In all cases, anti-riot police ESMAD intervened after protesters began blocking traffic, which is against the law in Colombia.
In Cali, where roadblocks had been reported in several parts of the city, one protester was injured near the local Valle del Cauca University, according to Blu Radio.
With the exception of Bucaramanga, the violence took place away from the main protests against President Ivan Duque that have been going on for two weeks.
According to Bucaramanga newspaper La Vanguardia, at least 32 people were detained after protesters in the rear end of a march held up traffic and police attacked them with teargas.
In Soacha, protesters were blocking traffic after which they were dispersed by police.
Medellin’s security secretary Andres Tobon said that 20 people were arrested in a middle class neighborhood in the south of the city because they were blocking a road.
Protesters said that the ESMAD arbitrarily arrested people who were gathered in a park hours after the local ombudsman reported tensions over attempts to block the road.
The disturbances took place at the end of the fifth day of mass marches that were part of a national strike that has triggered almost constant anti-government protests since November 21.
No incidents were reported during the marches that mobilized huge crowds a day before students, labor unions and indigenous organizations who called the strike sit down with the government for talks.
So far, the government has refused to negotiate the strike leaders’ demands that effectively seek major changes in the policy changes of the unpopular president.
Duque’s approval rating has plummeted over broad rejection of his policies and violent attempts to repress the protests.