Colombian president orders curfew in capital city amid continuing unrest

Anti-government protesters in Bogota Credit: AP Photo/Ivan Valencia

Colombian President Ivan Duque has ordered a curfew in the nation’s capital amid continuing unrest following a massive march.

Tens of thousands took to the streets of Bogota a day earlier to send a strong message of rejection against Mr Duque’s conservative government.

The president announced on Twitter that he has requested that Bogota’s mayor enforces a curfew beginning at 9pm in the city of 7 million, after police pushed back thick crowds of protesters banging pots and pans in the storied Plaza Bolivar.

Ivan Duque, left, has ordered a curfew in the Colombian capital, Bogata. Credit: Fernando Vergara/AP

The curfew comes one day after an estimated 250,000 people took to the streets in one of the nation’s biggest marches in recent history.

While the protest started out peaceful, it ended with scattered clashes between protesters and police.

Three people were killed in what authorities described as violent looting incidents overnight.

Clashes continued in parts of Bogota and in the south-western city of Cali on Friday as volunteers wiped graffiti off historic buildings and swept up shattered glass.

The upheaval comes as Latin America is experiencing a tide of discontent, with massive demonstrations in countries including Chile, Bolivia and Ecuador where citizens frustrated with their political leaders are taking to the streets.

Citizens of several Latin America countries have taken to the streets. Credit: Ivan Valencia/AP

Defence minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said that as of Friday morning, 98 people had been detained and 151 police and military officers injured, as well as 122 civilians, most of whom suffered minor injuries and tear gas inhalation.

The minister said two individuals were killed in the port city of Buenaventura after police were attacked while responding to looting at a shopping centre. A third died in Candelaria after police said a group looting a supermarket shot at officers.

The names and cause of death of those killed were not released.

Mr Duque called a special meeting with his ministers on Friday but did not immediately respond to protesters’ demand for a meeting. In an address after the protest, the president said he had heard the day’s outcry and supported talks with all sectors.

Protest organisers urged Mr Duque to establish a dialogue with indigenous, student and labour groups to discuss potential reforms and criticised him for not directly addressing demonstrator complaints in a late-night address.

Recent polling indicates Mr Duque has a 26% approval rating 15 months into his administration as the nation grapples with implementing a complicated peace process with leftist rebels, ongoing violence between illegal armed groups and long-simmering tensions over issues like corruption and inequality.