In Colombia, protests against the right-wing conservative leader Iván Duque escalated. In riots on the brink of demonstrations came on Thursday already killed three people, said Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo. In addition, more than 270 civilians and security forces were injured. 98 suspects had been arrested. Tens of thousands of Colombians had taken to the streets against the government's social and security policies during the heavy protests.
The violent clashes occurred mainly in the west of the country. Two people were killed in an attempted plunder in Buenaventura, Trujillo said. In clashes with suspected looters also a police officer and a soldier were injured. An investigation was initiated on the incidents.
Another human was reportedly killed in Candelaria. The Ministry of Defense said that this death was also related to the riots. In addition, according to Trujillo, eleven preliminary investigations into a possible "irregular" crackdown by the police against demonstrators in the capital Bogotá and in Cali, Manizales and Cartagena were initiated.
General strike and the mass rallies
The protests were directed, among other things, against planned labor and pension reforms as well as increasing violence against social activists. The clashes had come on Thursday evening. According to the authorities 122 civilians and 151 security forces were injured. The most violent riots occurred in Cali, the third largest city in Colombia. As a result, the city government imposed a curfew until Friday morning. According to the government, the situation in Cali and in Bogotá normalized on Friday.
The general strike and mass rallies organized by the unions included students, indigenous groups, environmentalists and the opposition. In Bogotá, the police used stun grenades against students who drew by the thousands to the capital's international airport.
The protests were the biggest of the past years. Duque had admitted on Wednesday in a televised address that some demands of the demonstrators were justified. At the same time, he lamented a campaign of "lies" fueling new violence.
Duque has taken a turn in Colombia's economic and security policy since taking office in August 2018. For example, he criticized the peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) as too lenient and has since cracked down on a splinter group of the Farc.
The agreement was negotiated in 2016 under the leadership of then-President Juan Manuel Santos. It ended the decade-long guerilla war with the rebels, who transformed themselves into a political party. The Farc had fought for half a century against the government in Bogotá, killing more than 260,000 people in the armed conflict.