Hundreds of thousands of Colombians took to the streets in Colombia on Thursday 21st November to express their negative stance towards the Colombian Government. Reasons for the marches have been reported as show of support towards the government’s embattled 2016 peace process (with the FARC) which Colombians state their government is prolonging the agreement terms.
Pensioners, teachers and students also joined the marches. It was reported that over 200,000 people across the country took part in the marches throughout the streets of all major cities in Colombia including Barranquilla, Cartagena, Medellin, Cali and Bogota.
It was reported that the marches, as a majority across the country were peaceful with the exception of Bogota and Cali which suffered incidents of vandalism, looting and violence. ESMAD the elite anti-disturbance Police unit responded to protesters with tear gas. It was reported the next day that 3 people had been killed in Cali and a number of Police officers & protesters injured during the disturbances.
Due to the violence and reporting of looting from the fallout of the protests, the mayor of Cali imposed a curfew during the night time in an attempt to curb the violence. Later that evening “pot bashing” with kitchen utensils was reported across Colombia in all major cities, an attempt for locals to show their stance that violence and crime as a result of the disturbances would not be appreciated. However, violence, looting and blockades were also reported as taking place the following day.
Demonstrations across Latin America are often planned as peaceful marches however always have a tendency to quickly turn violent. Protesters often take advantage of the Police & Military overstretched resources (due to managing incidents elsewhere) and carry out criminal activities such as looting and muggings. International staff with little experience or knowledge can often become trapped wrong place wrong time and fall victim to the violence, disturbances or even crime. Often Government Agencies in Latin America are reported as responding to disturbances with force resulting in the injuries or worst case deaths of protesters or innocent bystanders.