anthony.boynton at gmail.com
Fri Nov 22 22:24:46 MST 2019
*Colombia November 22*
Yesterday was a day that the people of Colombia poured out into the streets
to protest the rightwing government of Ivan Duque.
Duque is the marionette of former President and paramilitary leader Alvaro
Uribe Velez. His government’s agenda is to roll back pensions, radically
restrict the rights of workers and unions, attack public education, and
continue paramilitary terror in the countryside. At the same time, this
government has failed to do anything to revive a stagnant economy or
address the growth of petty street crime in the cities.
The protests were called by the country’s unions and student organizations,
and joined by environmentalist organizations, left political parties, and
millions of angry citizens. The mood of the protesters was ebullient:
marchers wore costumes, played music, sang, and danced.
At least two million people marched in Bogotá, the capital city of
8,000,000. More than a million more marched in the country's other cities.
In the evening the entire country continued the protest with a *cacerolazo*.
Millions of people all over the country in parks, on the streets, or
standing at the windows of their homes, banged on pots and pans for hours.
But the day was marred by violence. “*Encapuchados*”, literally ´hooded
people´, threw rocks and potato bombs at the police. They destroyed two
mass transit stations and one local government office building in Bogotá.
When the encapachudos appeared, the mass of the protesters chanted "fuera,
fuera" (out! out!).
Supermarkets, banks, and local stores were robbed. Vandalism of all sorts
occurred. And then, a wave of home invasions began.
The police maintained a demeanor of calm when people threw rocks at them in
public places where they were being filmed by protestors, but when they
thought they were not, they mercilessly beat protestors and bystanders.
The press blamed the attacks by the encapuchados on anarchists, but when
angry neighbors confronted and captured some of them, it turned out that
they were organized and paid 50,000 pesos each to participate in the crime
wave. The police, military, paramilitary, Uribistas, the city government,
and the national government are all suspected of working together to
orchestrate the criminal vandalism as a massive provocation against the
national protest movement.
The week prior to the marches the police had conducted a series of raids on
the homes and offices of activists allegedly to capture materials used to
make bombs. In fact, all they captured were art supplies being used to make
banners and signs to be used in the marches.
Today, the protests and the provocations have continued. Curfews have been
declared in the major cities, and the army is patrolling the streets
together with the police.
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