More definitions: the encapuchados involved in the protests

We came across this Spanish term for the first time, thanks to Mike’s Bogota Blog.

An ‘encapuchado’ is a ‘hooded person’. Mike’s blog entry is chiefly an investigation in the farmer’s plight and why they feel hard done by. At the end of his report, however, he writes that yesterdays’ protests turned violent probably because the ‘hoodies’ took the initiative in attacking the police.

We cannot, of course, verify this for a fact until we come across witness reports, but there is a good range of pictures showing the demonstrations that makes Mike’s Bogota blog worth a look-see.

Mike writes that: ‘One policeman was seriously injured by a rock blow to his head,’ What we also think is important to report, if it is known, is how many demonstrators were injured or hurt by the actions of the riot police? Our tagged reports give some figures there.


Photo’s and Video of today’s protest from Soacha, and Bogota

Photos of Colombia’s protests: tension in Soacha, gritty area near Bogota, from El Espectador, can be found here:

‘Soacha bloqueada por protestas’

The headline reads:

“The neighboring municipality awoke on Thursday to find the streets blocked by protests. No public transport was available and there have been acts of vandalism.”
If there are any ‘acts of vandalism’, one should first take a look at the actions of the riot police, the ESMAD,: see this report today by Colombia Reports: ‘Colombian government to answer for ‘excessive’ force used in protests’
Even the Wall Street Journal has carried a report, there’s a short video of protestors fighting back.

Update on news reporting on today’s day of action across Colombia

Colombian workers in rural and urban areas, students and many other sectors have held numerous protests across the country today. Unsurprisingly, the police have attacked the demonstrators, with reports suggesting the police have used live ammunition. People have courageously fought back with whatever they can.

In a headline ‘Anti-government protests in Colombia; Violent clashes with Police in Bogota and Medellin’, Colombia Reports starts:

“Tens of thousands have taken to the streets across Colombia in the biggest show of force from anti-government protests since agriculture workers went on strike last week. Violent clashes were reported, primarily from Bogota.

Protesters started arriving at the Plaza Bolivar in Bogota in the late morning, and by the early afternoon there were roughly 10,000 people assembled in the city’s main square. Caracol Radio, one of Colombia’s national media intensely following ongoing protests, reported that a total of 40,000 people were protesting around the city.” Read more here.

Al Jazeera reports: ‘Colombian President seeks calm amidst protests’.

Colombia Reports also writes that it appears Santos can no longer ignore the protests, albeit only referring to the ‘agricultural sector’, while students are threatening to join the action.

The indigenous Wayuu people are reported to have blocked the main road in the north between Colombia and Venezuela in the far northeast region of La Guajira, forcing the closure of several businesses in Maicao.

Human Rights abuses: a reminder

In light of the arrest and imprisonment of trade union leader Huber Ballasteros, The Guardian writes on the continued human rights abuses in Colombia, which the author terms Colombia’s ‘dirty secret’. It’s a reminder of the real risks, and courage, the people of Colombia take when they protest or become involved in organizations that organize to fight for workers and people’s rights:

“At the end of July, I found myself in sitting in the attorney general’s office in Colombia. I had spent the previous week travelling across the country with the NGO Justice for Colombia, and the idea was for me to meet the attorney general’s office and talk about the things I’d observed – the political prisoners I’d heard about, the state atrocities, the unsolved executions.” Read more here: ‘Human rights in Colombia: how bad do things have to get?

Tensions ahead of protests on Thursday reported

Colombia Politics tweet:

“Colombia, universities and schools closed tomorrow to protect students. Mass marches expected. Tension increases as strike grows”

We expect to see a flurry of reports in the coming days and weeks. Our intention is to report on what happens on the ground and how local communities, in rural as well as urban areas, are getting organized, involving more local people, resisting State oppression, and ensuring people do not go without food in the process.


City demonstrations planned for Thursday 29 August

Colombia Reports write:

“CUT General Secretary Tarsicio Rivera told Colombia Reports that demonstrations are scheduled to take place Thursday in each of the 32 departmental capitals, including Bogota, and all other large urban centers in Colombia.

The event seeks to highlight the national platforms of labor groups, such as health workers, truckers and teachers, whose movements have been somewhat eclipsed by the public clamor over the agricultural strikes, but the marches will also give sectors recently entering the protest fray an opportunity to spread their messages.

Entering large-scale protest activities for the first time since the start of the recent wave of civil unrest are the national oil (USO), student (MANE) and banking (UNEB) unions.”

Read the full report here ‘Colombia’s largest union calls for protests in support of strikes.’

Strikes set to spread as Santos arrives 6hrs late for negotiations and Quintana shows support

English language Colombian dailies Colombia Politics and Colombia Reports today continue to highlight the groundswell of support for the strike and protest movement, with teachers set to join in on 10th September and oil workers showing support. Even the famous cyclist Quintana has come out in support of the strikers.

‘The Week Santos Lost Colombia’ report by Colombia Politics.

‘Colombia govt delegation arrives 6 hrs late at meeting with farmers, strikes expand to oil sectors’ from Colombia Reports; and

‘Colombia cyclist Nairo Quintana publicly supports anti government protests‘.

Grassroots news and reports will be put up as soon as we can locate them, but for ongoing updates on the ground, you can go to this Facebook page. It is in Spanish but ‘bling’ provides translations of each message.