Colombia’s students and teachers virtually paralyzed the capital Bogota on Thursday as part of national protests to demand promised funds for education and less police violence.
The mass mobilization was the latest escalation in a series that began with just one protest at a Bogota university where students protested at the alleged corruption practices of the university’s administration.
The violent police repression of this protest triggered peaceful solidarity protests that also ended violently after the intervention of hooded men and the controversial ESMAD riot police.
On Tuesday, protest marches to demand investment in education, the dismantling of ESMAD and an end to corruption were held in at least 17 cities.
Peaceful marches ended by violence
The march in Bogota, where public and private university students marched together, occurred without major incidents until the end when a small group of rioters attacked police and the protesters were dispersed.
— Caracol Radio (@CaracolRadio) October 10, 2019
The violence was rejected by the students and teachers who have been adamant in keeping their protests peaceful.
In Barranquilla, where students demand the removal of a rector accused of sexual harassment, rioters who had infiltrated the march vandalized the campaign office of governor candidate Elsa Noguera.
Duque rejects violence
President Ivan Duque rejected “every expression of violence,” adding that it “again clouds a day of student marches.”
Colombia cannot tolerate vandalism, nor attacks by criminal minorities who infiltrate to destroy private properties, public goods and attack our Public Force.
President Ivan Duque
Education Minister Maria Victoria Angulo on Twitter insisted that the government has been complying with promises made to students and teachers to invest in the country’s neglected education system, contrary to the claims of the students.