Protests in Bogotá

On Friday, March 9, there were large protests and riots in Bogotá in retaliation against Transmilenio, the mass transportation bus system here in the city. 

People are protesting mainly the cost of one Transmilenio pass, which is $1,750 COP, advocating that it should be only $1,000 COP. The protestors also want more buses to be running because they do not come often enough and when they do, are extremely packed.

The protests quickly turned to riots as vandals destroyed five major Transmilenio stations, throwing rocks, breaking the glass, tearing down security cameras, graffitiing the stations, and even breaking open the ticket booths and stealing money from them.

My apartment is right near one of the Transmilenio stations where people were rioting, and when I went outside to take photos, the smell of pepper spray made me cough even through the scarf I brought to cover my face. I could hear papa bombas (potato bombs) going off, which are used to make noise more than to actually blow anything up.

Later, when I was back inside my apartment, we heard yelling right outside and people running, and when I went to the window, we saw gas pouring out of the store right in front of my apartment; someone had thrown a gas bomb inside and people were running out, coughing. Two more were thrown later in the street, although I’m not sure by whom.

The riots seemed thoroughly ineffective and disorganized to me and while I agree the price of Transmilenio should be lowered, I seriously doubt these riots will have any positive effect. Also, as always seems to happen with riots, people just decided to destroy whatever they felt like; for example, the Davivienda bank and bus stop pictured below, that have nothing to do with Transmilenio.

According to the Bogotá government, this has been the worst attack on the public transportation system in its twelve years of existence. Petro, the current mayor of Bogotá, has said that the city will pay for the repairs and that all stations should be working on Monday.

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