Clashes erupted between Colombian police and protesters, who took to the streets of the capital, Bogota, against the US-backed government of President Ivan Duque, in what became one of the biggest rallies in recent years.
Hundreds of thousands of people rallied in the streets of Bogota on Thursday to protest Duqueís economic, social and security policies.
Demonstrators, including trade unions, students, opposition parties and the countryís indigenous organizations were also showing support for the South American country’s peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The protests, which began peacefully, turned violent after police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Colombian protesters gather in Bogotaís historic Plaza de Simón Bolívar, on November 21. 2019. (Photo by AFP)
Police clashed with the demontrators who started throwing rocks and bottles at the security forces.
"Theyíre throwing tear gas and dispersing, abusing the people," said a protester.
There were also reports of arrests in the capital.
There was a general strike underway in the city protesting the government’s proposed economic reforms.
Earlier this week, the government announced plans to close its borders, and install a curfew as part of measures to contain mass strikes and protests.
“We live in a country that kills children, that kills social leaders, with a government that is against peace,” said a protester.
“That is why we have to change something. We cannot continue to live like this.”
Demonstrators clash with riot police during protests in the Colombian capital Bogota, November 21, 2019. (photo by AFP)
Duque, who came to power in August 2018, is faced with widespread criticism for his handling of the peace process with the FARC rebels.
The FARC signed a deal with Bogota in Vietnam back in 2016. The agreement ended 50 years of conflict which claimed the lives of some 260,000 people.
In September, the group called on its followers to take up arms once again after three years of peace with the government.
Duque also threatened to hunt down the leaders of the group.
In the meantime, indigenous leaders say violent attacks on their communities have increased under Duqueís government.
Protests and a national strike are crippling Colombia in a similar vein to neighboring counties Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia which have already experienced major social unrest this year.