Bogotá (AP) - On the verge of mostly peaceful demonstrations against the government in Colombia, there have been violent riots.
In the capital, Bogotá, hoodlums hurled stones at the police, officials fired tear gas into the crowd and used water cannon, as shown on television on Thursday. Protesters set fire to barricades, destroyed bus stops and started business.
According to the police, 28 officials were injured across the country, most of them in the city of Cali in the southwest of the country. There, the mayor imposed a curfew, 25 people were arrested. In total, according to official figures, about 200,000 people participated in the protests in Bogotá and Medellín, Cali and Barranquilla.
Previously, thousands of Colombians across the country took to the streets against conservative President Iván Duque's government. The protests were directed, among other things, against planned labor and pension reforms as well as increasing violence against social activists.
"I disagree with our economic system, in which the government supports only the big companies," said the protester Miguel Guerra in Bogotá. Clara Ines Guerrero said: "The land is falling apart. The neo-liberal system is already showing first cracks. "
Numerous security forces were deployed, the borders with neighboring countries were closed, and mayors and governors were given the right to impose curfews. "We can disagree and express our beliefs, but the most important thing is to live together peacefully," said President Duque.
Recently, numerous countries in South America were shaken by violent protests. In Bolivia, President Evo Morales resigned after electoral allegations and fled into exile in Mexico. In Chile, the government and the opposition agreed after weeks of demonstrations to draft a new constitution. In Ecuador, the government had to withdraw the withdrawal of petrol subsidies due to heavy protests.