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  • Citizen spins fire during a protest on the second day of a national strike in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 22, 2019.

    Citizen spins fire during a protest on the second day of a national strike in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 22, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 November 2019

Former presidential candidate Gustavo Petro denounced an intelligence operation aimed at frightening citizens.

Making noise by banging pots to call for attention, thousands of people gathered on Friday afternoon at the Bolivar Square in Bogota to reject President Ivan Duque and his neoliberal policies.

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"We are here to protest against Duque's government," art student Katheryn Martinez said while banging a pot with a spoon.

"It is a government that kills children and does not recognize it," she added and recalled a bombing where eight minors died, which forced Defense Minister Guillermo Botero's recent resignation.

Although citizens were protesting peacefully, the police entered Bolivar Square to disperse them by throwing tear gas, which obliged demonstrators to run through the streets of downtown Bogota.

Colombia's capital city was not quiet on Friday. In various places, citizens improvised dozens of demonstrations, roadblocks, and barricades.

In a fruitless attempt to suppress social protests, however, President Duque reinforced surveillance in Bogota, a city that has more than 7 million inhabitants.

"I've decided to strengthen the security force's presence and increase intelligence capabilities. I ordered the deployment of Police and the National Army patrols in critical places," he said.

"The Government of Uribe-Duque is creating panic, repression, and death to Colombia's people. Duque is afraid. Resign now, Duque" The meme reads, "Indign yourself! A member of Colombia's Riot Squadron (ESMAD) fired tear gas at close range against one of the protesters who was rejecting Ivan Duque's neoliberal administration in Bogota."

On Nov. 21, millions of Colombians took to the streets to hold the biggest protest against President Duque since he came to power in Aug. 2018.

Besides being concerned about his government's little commitment to the Peace Agreements, the population rejects a neoliberal policy package which seeks to raise the compulsory retirement age, increase workers' contributions to the pension system, reduce the state's role in social security, lower the young people's minimum wage, among other things.

So far, however, the right-wing president has failed to consolidate a parliamentary majority willing to approve his proposals, which are often justified as if they were tools to "fight corruption."

Great Pot-Banging Protest in Bogota: Accompanied with casseroles, citizens chanted ‘Get Out Duke!!’. They decided not to obey the curfew and threw themselves into the streets. The pot banging protest occurs throughout the country.

Former leftist presidential candidate Gustavo Petro, who convened the pot-banging protest, held that the Duque administration implemented an intelligence operation aimed at frightening citizens.

“The curfew decreed by Peñalosa in Bogota was used to mount a panic operation withing middle class and poor neighborhoods. Its goal was to sabotage the social movement with panic.”

In this regard, there is evidence in social networks. During the curfew, citizens recorded police officers who were breaking glasses and, in some cases, forcing homeless people to collect stones.

“The Police are chasing protesters and breaking the glass from houses and cars in the Patio Bonito area,” independent outlet Colombia Informa reported and posted a video in which dozens of police officers, who are unequivocally wearing their uniforms, are chasing citizens on foot.

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