The United States Embassy in Bogota sent an emergency message to American citizens in Colombia on Wednesday warning them to avoid the student protests that are currently occupying the Colombian capital.
The message states that, “as always, we advise U.S. Citizens that even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can become violent and unpredictable. You should avoid them if at all possible. Be alert and aware of your surroundings and pay attention to what the local news media has to say.”
The embassy explained that roughly 400 university students are currently protesting in the streets of Bogota, “blocking traffic at Carrera 30 between Avenue Primero and Calle 27,” with another group “marching on Carrera 13 From Calle 60 towards Calle 45.”
The two groups are expected to coincide and “take Carrera 7 to Plaza de Bolivar.”
Plaza de Bolivar is located at the heart of downtown Bogota, and the embassy warns that “at approximately 11:00 am today, more than 1000 students from SENA, Universidad Nacional, Distirtal [sic], and Pedagogica, and students from district schools, are expected to marching on Carrera 7 from Calle 72 towards Plaza de Bolivar to protest an education bill to be debated in the Colombian congress.”
The U.S. Embassy reported that Colombian police “are taking measures accordingly.”
Students and educators across Colombia have taken to the streets to protest Law 30, the proposed reform of higher education. Critics argue that the law, which aims to privatize the funding of public universities, will undermine their autonomy.
In addition to university strikes, a Tuesday protest in Pereira, where a group of hooded people hijacked a bus and set it ablaze during student protests, is the latest example of violence erupting during student protests. One student was recently killed in Cali and protesters clashed with police in Bogota on October 12. However, reports indicate students were not responsible for the bus attack.