[Bogotá, Colombia] Riots around Universidad Pedagogica blockade the financial district for four hours

received 3/13/2018

On Tuesday, March 6th, in Bogotá, Colombia, two explosions burst during the quiet of the lessons. In between the fully painted walls of this eternally leftist university, located in the middle of a financial district, the students playing on the sports field turn their heads in all directions. The sound of chattering suddenly vanishes. It is 10:30 AM and the gatekeepers put their backpacks on and immediately leave the scene. Rapidly, a small group of hooded people meets the crowd, without talking. In a kind of dancing manner, without much useless noises, the students peacefully leave the playground and the encapuchadxs progressively take their place. It is quickly possible to count as many as 50 of them, now facing the stone benches.

On the benches, a crowd interested students gather. We can hear some of them express their disagreement “it’s gonna be bad”, but they leave the spot as fast as they can. Oh the field, it is easy to see at least 3 different groups. The hoods are made from black clothing, their bodies are completely covered, even their shoes with large socks. Some of them are completely dressed with black plastic bags. Despite the first explosions, they don’t seem to hurry. Some of them throw what seem to be little metallic balls on the wall, which explodes in an incredible BOOM. You’ve just met papas bombas, a tradition here in Colombia.

They ask the audience to be silent and begin to explain the purpose of all this. Two anarchist individuals shout their words at the benches from behind their hoods, before a feminist does the same. A trans woman in the audience then speaks too, after asking to interrupt an anarchist’s speech. She says that what is going to happen is very good, but the struggle also takes place in our day-to-day life, that for women, gays and lesbians, and trans, we have to fight against all aspects of oppression. The encapuchadxs and the audience applaud loudly. During the speeches, several encapuchadxs distribute leaflets with political content, including anarchism and feminism (with calls for the March 8th march). Then it is the time for the FARC dissidents to talk.
The FARC, the well known 50 years old Colombian guerilla group, finalized a peace agreement with the Colombian state a couple of years ago. Some of the encapuchadxs we can see, well marked with their black
and yellow armbands, are dissidents from this group. But as soon as they start to talk, a loud siren sounds and they abort their speech, which made us smile as anti-authoritarian individuals. The students and the
encapuchadxs then take their places at the gates of the university. Lots of people mask their faces and gather rocks and empty bottles. The ESMAD, the anti-riot police, can be seen through the bars of the university, slowly deploying around the university, as the encapuchadxs go out, their hands full of papas bombas. The confrontation begins, the cops respond to the powerful bombs with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Some of the encapuchadxs go out of the buildings to attack either Davivienda, a large Colombian bank, or a big Renault shop. Renault is a big French car manufacturer. Seeing their windows shattering, we had thoughts for comrades imprisoned in France since the recent social movements [1]. Some rebels also break billboards around the university, and spray paint some anarchist graffitis (Rabia y solidaridad (A) ; ¡Arriba el tropel! ; Tombos = bastardos ; (A)-K Anarchistas al Kombate).

As more and more cops arrive, they try to come closer to the gates of the university, but could never really surround the campus. Two or more police trucks with water cannons were seen too, throwing gas canisters inside the university. Inside the gates, people light little fires to inhale the fumes and heal the effects of the gas. They also breathe rosemary branches for the same reasons. Others throw molotov cocktails or papas bombas at the trucks. Outside it is complete chaos. The cops are physically blocking a huge crowd of spectators who seem to be very friendly with the savage students who fight the police, shouting to warn them when the truck or police motocycles are coming.

An important fact to notice is that in Colombia, the police is not allowed to enter universities, and even stranger, they seem to respect this rule. This is probably the reason why the riot could last for hours without any of both sides being really able to move forward.

A sad event though occured at the end of the riot. A loud explosion could be heared and 3 or 4 students were severely injured, probably by an artisanal explosive device (papas bombas). It seem that some of them have lost either an eye or a hand. They were sent to the hospitals. We strongly express our solidarity with these injured comrades.

After this riot, which was the second one in less than one month at this university, we can read in the newspapers that all politicians from right to left call to cease those protests and to change the law to make it possible for the cops to enter universities. The whole campus was shut down for one week to conduct investigations. Despite this classical conservative backlash, some voices, even from workers union at the university, have expressed their solidarity with the events and with those injured.

In Colombia, the anarchist offensive movement is alive and well, and the will to express radical ideas in radical ways is definitely palpable.

For anarchy. For chaos.

some anarchists

[1] Specifically, we talk about the prisoners of the anti-labour law
movement of 2016, some of them still in jail, and some people in prison
after the eviction of the Bois Lejuc, an occupied zone in struggle
against a big project to bury nuclear waste in eastern France.

Collection of leaflets, distributed during the protests (pdf)

in German

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