Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Saturday inspected protests in the vicinity of the capital Bogota that are part of a massive anti-government protests that have been ongoing throughout the country for a week.
Overflying protests in Cundinamarca, the department immediately surrounding the capital district, Santos informed himself on the state of the roads near Bogota.
The president published a photo of one roadblock on his Twitter account, asking publicly where the police was.
Bloqueo con quema de llantas en Ubaté. No más de 40 personas. ¿Dónde está la Policía? pic.twitter.com/h5hoWmp5Vb
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) August 24, 2013
Santos’ rhetorical question was responded sarcastically by Colombians who asked their president where his government was “to begin dialogue and concertation.” The authorities have faced fierce criticism by opposition congressmen and on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter for its response to the strikes that had been announced in June, but were largely unattended until protesters began blocking roads which spurred a violent reaction by anti-riot police. Police commander General Rodolfo Palomino said on Twitter that clashes with protesters have injured 123 policemen.
Así mismo pido a manifestantes que no se dejen persuadir por los violentos. 123 policías heridos con piedras, explosivos y armas de fuego. — General Palomino (@generalpalomino) August 24, 2013
Additionally, Colombia’s top police official called to investigate ongoing accusations of police brutality that have left an unreported number of civilians injured.
He tomado atenta nota de las denuncias por excesos de algunos uniformados, ordené investigación para todos los casos. Firmes pero dignos.
— General Palomino (@generalpalomino) August 24, 2013
The protests began months ago in Catatumbo, an area in the northeast of Colombia where local coca farmers demanded to be helped sowing alternative crops before eradicating coca in the impoverished region.
The Catatumbo farmers were later joined by informal and artisan miners throughout the west of the country who blame the government of criminalizing them, while disallowing to formalize their businesses.
A national strike was called by truckers, farmers, health workers and university professors who all laid down work on Monday and Tuesday. Since then, hundreds of thousands of protesters have gathered around Colombia to demand government attention for a wide variety of reasons.