Colombians clashed with police and damaged property in a nationwide protest against education reform Wednesday, Colombian media reported.
According to reports, the protests in the capital cities of Medellin, Bogota, Ibague, and Tunja caused the most damage. Protesters threw rocks at riot police in Ibague, the capital of the central Tolima department, injuring eight police officers. In Tunja, the capital city of the Boyaca department, one lieutenant and one officer were severely injured during the protests.
Several properties were damaged by potato bombs and three police officers were injured in the march in Medellin. Protesters in Bogota defaced the Transmilenio bus system, dozens of stores and banks, as well as a museum.
The Ministry of Culture said they condemned “the graffiti written on the Museum of Independence… Although we recognize and support the right to protest, we must remember that cultural spaces like the museum are the property of everyone, and that it is our obligation to ensure its protection and preservation.”
The Colombian Federation of Educators (Fecode) and the United Workers Center (CUT) denied responsibility for the destruction, claiming that the vandals sought to undermine the legitimacy of protest.
“We are the first to reject these acts whose purpose goes beyond the damage, to divert attention from the just claims of the educators,” said Senen Niño, the president of CUT.
Students and teachers took to the streets to defend the rights of educators and to protest the privatization of higher education.