Photo: Student protest in Colombia
Thousands of students took to the streets of the Colombian capital on Thursday to show support for a general strike in the farm sector and demand more investment in education.
The students departed from different points of Bogota en route to downtown Bolivar Square, where demonstrations by union members, health and oil sector workers, truckers and other protesters also were expected to converge.
In one of the marches, several hundred university students walked down the Carrera 7 thoroughfare shouting slogans in support of the farmers and against the federal government.
“There they are. The ones robbing the nation,” the demonstrators, followed at a prudent distance by a few dozen riot police, shouted outside a group of banks.
Another march departed from the National University of Colombia, whose campus has been the scene of protests. The administration of that public institution said Thursday that classes would be canceled until the situation returns to normal.
Groups of students from the National Apprenticeship Service and some private universities also joined that march.
Some masked demonstrators hurled paintballs at bank branches and scrawled graffiti blaming the financial sector for an agricultural crisis that triggered violent protests beginning Aug. 19 that have left five people dead.
“Here’s the Colombian farmers’ money,” protesters wrote at the entrance to one of the banks.
The students also held up signs reading “Education is our Right” and “Down with the TLC,” referring to Colombia’s trade pact with the United States.
The farm sector partially blames its troubles on that agreement, which took effect in May 2012 and has allowed cheaper U.S. imports to enter the Andean nation.