Here’s Why Colombians Are Protesting All Across the Country

Lead Photo: Photo by Andres Virviescas / EyeEm
Photo by Andres Virviescas / EyeEm
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On Thursday, Colombians participated in a national strike to protest increasing unemployment, economic reforms and a declining security situation under the socially conservative President Ivan Duque, CNN reports.

The demonstrations, which occurred all over the South American country, were overall peaceful, though there were reports of some violence in the western city of Cali. There, protesters burned the equipment of a local news crew and some clashed with officers at a local university.

Despite the predominantly peaceful demonstrations, officers deployed teargas at demonstrators in the country’s capital of Bogotá. Additionally, a curfew was ordered in Cali and borders were closed blocking entry by land and sea from Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Venezuela. The borders were reopened early Friday morning.

Duque became president in August 2018. Since then, his administration has faced growing criticism for economic stagnation as well as his handling of the peace process with FARC rebels and the rising attacks on Indigenous groups as they fight illegal mining.

“They’ve forgotten about the people,” Indigenous leader Aida Quilcué told CNN. “I think there are structural problems that force us to defend our rights.”

On Twitter, Duque said he recognized peaceful protest as part of a healthy democracy and asked Colombians to demonstrate peacefully.

“We will guarantee public order and we will defend, with all of the tools our constitution gives us, the right of Colombians to live in peace,” Duque said.

In South America, countries like Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia are also experiencing social unrest with thousands of people in each nation pushing back against political corruption and inequality.