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Colombian authorities reopen highways after more than a month of violent protests

Colombian authorities reopen highways following violent protests
Colombian authorities reopen highways following violent protests

CALI, Colombia – Colombian authorities have reported progress in re-opening highways across the country, following more than a month of violent protests.

Authorities have said the roadblocks built by protestors have caused shortages of essential goods, becoming a major problem.

Manifestantes bloquean una carretera durante una protesta contra el gobierno en Bogot, Colombia, el lunes 10 de mayo de 2021. Los colombianos han protestado en todo el pas contra un gobierno que sienten que durante mucho tiempo ha ignorado sus necesidades, permitido que la corrupcin marche desenfrenada y que propuso aumentos de impuestos durante la pandemia de coronavirus. La manifestaciones han terminado en violencia en muchas ocasiones. (Foto AP/Fernando Vergara) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Thousands of roadblocks and restricted traffic areas can be found across the country, along with the thousands of Colombians joining the national strike that began on April 28.

Western Colombia has been the most affected, with reports of shortages of essential food and other items.

“The government owes us a big debt because of their bad decisions. We know that hundreds of thousands of dollars in goods come through this area, so it’s the only way we could get the government’s attention,” said a young man guarding the area.

President Ivan Duque has deployed the military to this city and ordered the armed forces to remove the blockades al all costs.

Anti-government protester clashes with police in Bogota, Colombia, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. The protests have been triggered by proposed tax increases on public services, fuel, wages and pensions. (AP Photo/Ivan Valencia) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

In many areas, riot police have moved in, trying to regain control and retake the captured police station.

The city’s mayor, Jorge Ivan Ospina, said he disagrees with the rhetoric from the President and instead said he would prefer to remove the roadblocks through dialogue.

Many people living nearby believe the president’s words have lead to violence from civilians at night who arrive and fire their weapons.

“I just told the man who was trying to get through in his car, that he couldn’t go this way and he started shooting his gun.. he shot at least six times,” said the resident.

The government reports progress in lifting the roadblocks and have said at least 40 percent of them have been cleared. But the mayor disagrees, adding that there have been several instances when they’ve removed the block and it has been reinstated.

About the Authors:

Veronica Crespo writes for Local10.com and also oversees the Español section of the website. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami, where she studied broadcast journalism and Spanish.