Photo: Protests in Colombia
Colombian police used tear gas and water cannon to break up a demonstration in Bogota Thursday in solidarity with a nationwide general strike in the agricultural sector.
Thousands of students, healthcare and oil sector workers, truckers and other activists converged in Bogota’s Bolivar Square to show support for the farmers.
Riot police charged the protesters to subdue small groups of masked militants who were throwing stones at shops and banks branches in the downtown area.
The charge was accompanied by volleys of tear gas and highly pressurized water.
Once driven from the square by the police, some of the demonstrators regrouped and resumed marching down nearby streets.
Two cops and a protester were injured, municipal secretary Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo said on Twitter.
Authorities in the poor Bogota suburb of Soacha imposed a curfew after incidents of vandalism and looting.
Even before reaching Bolivar Square, some of Thursday’s protesters hurled paintballs at bank branches and scrawled graffiti blaming the financial sector for the agricultural crisis that triggered the current general strike, which has left five people dead.
“Here’s the Colombian farmers’ money,” protesters wrote at the entrance to one bank.
University 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.