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  • A man is arrested by the police during a protest for a national strike in Bogota.

    A man is arrested by the police during a protest for a national strike in Bogota. | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 April 2019
Opinion

"I condemn the acts of violence and vandalism against the Cathedral of Colombia," President Ivan Duque tweeted.

Across Colombia, people have taken up the charge of anti-government protests which have turned violent in the capital of Bogota, as of Friday.

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Thousands of people marched in central Bogota to demonstrate against President Ivan Duque's policies which, according to protesters, are destroying workers' rights as well as the education system.

Masked demonstrators tore away nets protecting the metropolitan cathedral, which flanks central Bolivar Square, and painted slogans on its walls, Nambucca Guardian reported. They also threw stones at riot police, who retaliated with tear gas. 

Police and students also clashed at the entrance of Bogota's National University. Around 35 people have been arrested and 14 injured, according to Caracol news.

President Duque condemned what he said were acts of vandalism and violence in the protests in a tweet.

"I condemn the acts of violence and vandalism against the Cathedral of Colombia. I ask the authorities to advance quickly in the identification and prosecution of those responsible for this attack, so that justice is done," he wrote.

Protesters have also accused the president of not respecting all  provisions in the previous government's 2016 peace deal with the former guerrilla group FARC, saying his policies have compromised the ongoing peace process that suceeded 52 years of internal conflict. Roughly 128 ex-militants have been killed since the signing of the treaty.

A demonstrator throws a stone to riot police during a protest for a national strike. | Source: Reuters

Protesters have said the government was not protecting protect human rights activists, environmentalists and other community leaders, whose death toll has also been of grave concern as more than 150 such people were assassinated last year, according to NGO Somos Defensores.

Duque has faced numerous protests and demonstrations since he assumed office in August 2018.

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