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Authorities impose curfew in capital of Colombia, deploy 20k police against protesters

The mayor of Bogota has imposed an overnight curfew on Bosa, Kennedy and Ciudad Bolivar – three districts in the Colombian capital – and deployed 20,000 uniformed police to “establish order” as anti-government protests continue.

“What we are facing is not a march,” said Mayor Enrique Peñalosa, announcing the measure on Friday evening, describing the protesters as a small number of “criminals, vandals, looting, stealing and wanting to practically end our city.”

The three districts have been the most affected by the violence that has erupted on the sidelines of mass protests against the austerity measures of President Ivan Duque’s government. 

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A riot police officer uses a tear gas weapon during a protest in Bogota, Colombia, November 21, 2019.
Police fire tear gas & water cannon as mass anti-govt protests in Colombia’s capital turn violent (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

Over 200,000 people rallied in Bogota on Thursday. Another 20,000 rallied in Cali, prompting local authorities to impose a curfew there. 

“The vast majority of citizens are good, hardworking. We are not going to let a minority of criminals destroy the city,” Duque said on Friday, confirming the curfew declaration in Bogota.

“We seek to preserve order and security in these areas, with the presence of police and national army,” the president tweeted.

Public transit system Transmilenio is also shutting down for the night. The mayor has blamed protesters for damaging stations and more than 60 buses in “widespread vandalism.”

Footage from Bogota shows riot police firing tear gas at masked protesters pelting them with rocks. As the sun sets over the Colombian capital, local media describe the situation as “very complex.”

The protests were precipitated by Duque’s proposed pension reforms, but have since escalated into general discontent with the government, with grievances ranging from social issues to human rights. 

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