The riots which ripped through Medellin‘s city center on Monday were caused by criminal gangs infiltrating a protest by street-vendors, said mayor Anibal Gaviria.
Local vendors had planned to meet with city officials on Monday morning to discuss trading rights; however when no one from the local government showed up traders took to the streets in protest and blocked off major routes into the city center.
The city center descended into chaos as masked looters began smashing shop windows and throwing missiles of stones and homemade explosives during which time three people were injured, 39 arrested, and hundreds of thousands worth of damage was done, according to the authorities.
Gaviria and the city’s police commander said that there was evidence a criminal gang involved in selling drugs, child prostitution, and pirate cds and dvds from one of Medellin’s poorest barrios infiltrated the protest.
Two police officers were among the injured, one of whom was stabbed by a woman with a knife. Out of the 39 arrests 25 were adults and 14 were children.
The mayor offered advice to the street vendors who were affected in his statement on Monday evening.