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  • General view of the place where a car bomb caused an explosion this Thursday at the Santander General School of Police in Bogota.

    General view of the place where a car bomb caused an explosion this Thursday at the Santander General School of Police in Bogota. | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 January 2019

The students were planning to protest against the police brutality of ESMAD in previous demonstrations.

Colombian students from different organizations decided to cancel the planned marches for Thursday in respect of the victims of the bomb attack against the Anti-Riot Mobile Squad (Esmad) in Bogota, which left at least nine dead and 54 injured.

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The students were demanding the dissolution of the ESMAD because of its violent reactions to the months-long protests to increase public universities’ budgets. On Dec. 13, a university student from Popayan lost an eye.

The National Union of Higher Education Students (UNEES) cancelled the nationwide protests against ESMAD after hours discussing the situation in assembly and rejected any form of violence.

“The March in Bogota for the dissolution of ESMAD has been cancelled due to the risks related to today’s attacks. However, several members of our movement will participate donating blood for the injured,” says a public statement by UNEES.

The student organization postponed the march for Jan. 24 and reaffirmed the “necessity to remain in the struggle and continue with the assembly processes and socialization of the agreements.”

Out of the 26 universities on strike since Oct. 11, 2018, 13 are already back in classrooms because of the socialized agreements reached between the assemblies and Colombia’s government.

Students from the Atlantic University also postponed the march.

“This provoked a problem for public order and all Colombians. The faculties will dicuss a new date to have a march. We understand the situation the country is going through,” said Eloy Soto, student leader from the Atlantic University.

Another sit-in protest planned to demand the resignation of the Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez, accusing him of being involved in a corruption case with Odebrecht, was also cancelled.

“All our solidarity with the National Police, with the victims and their families… we think it’s important to safeguard the people that go out to protest. The best thing would be for the citizens to remain at home,” say the organizing people in a video shared through social media.

The protest against Martinez was a continuation of another sit-in from Jan. 11, summoned by social media, and the organizers said they will announce a new date. Meanwhile, they asked the population to place a candle in front of their houses to show solidarity.

A car bomb exploded at the General Santander Police Academy in the south of the capital on Thursday morning.

The governments of Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador and others in Latin America have expressed their solidarity with Colombia and the victims.

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