Three people were killed during nationwide demonstrations in Colombia as part of a general strike protesting against the policies of President Ivan Duque‘s right-wing government, the defense minister said Friday.
Hundreds of thousands of Colombians took to the streets in the capital Bogota and other cities on Thursday to protest Duque’s economic, social, and security policies.
There were reports of arrests and clashes as trade unions, students, opposition parties and the South American country’s indigenous organizations took to the streets.
Carlos Holmes Trujillo told reporters that the deaths had taken place during demonstrations in the western Valle del Cauca department.
“Over the last few hours, the authorities have confirmed the death of two people during clashes in Buenaventura and of another in Candelaria, municipalities in Valle del Cauca,” the minister said.
The protests came in response to a round of new austerity proposals, including labor reforms and pension cuts.
Colombia's President assured he will "accelerate social agenda and fight against corruption" after hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Bogota amid a general strike. pic.twitter.com/poK8O7LIFK
— DW News (@dwnews) November 22, 2019
Protesters also voiced opposition to a recent airstrike on a camp held by alleged dissident drug traffickers, which resulted in the deaths of eight children.
In a statement late Thursday, Duque announced that he had heard the protesters’ demands, but did not respond to their request for direct dialogue.
The protests come amid social upheaval across South America, as a wave of unrest over the past two months has battered conservative governments in Chile, Bolivia, and Ecuador.
The popularity of Duque’s right-wing government – a key U.S. ally – has been on the wane since his election 18 months ago.
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