Clashes kill one, injure dozen in Colombia port city of Buenaventura

Demonstrators create roadblocks by setting tires, cones, and branches on fire, blocking major thoroughfares and access routes to the port, in Buenaventura, Colombia. (File photo)
Violent clashes between protesters and riot police in Colombia have left one person dead and nearly a dozen injured in the port city of Buenaventura.
Protests and strikes have been going on in Buenaventura since Tuesday as residents demand better public facilities in the Pacific port city, which has been wracked by violence and poverty.
Media reported the death of one protester on Sunday. Over 40 others were also arrested during the clashes.
Buenaventura is the country’s main gateway to Asia and accounts for around half of Colombia’s maritime trade. Yet, many of the city’s 415,000 residents lack access to running water and other basic services.
Negotiations between protest leaders and the national government broke down on Friday after days of peaceful protests. Consequently, the protests turned violent.
There have been reports of overnight looting and vandalism.
This file image purportedly shows the aftermath of violence in Buenaventura, Colombia.
President Juan Manuel Santos’ general secretary, Alfonso Prada, said the government respected the people’s right to peaceful protests, but warned that it would not tolerate violent actions.
According to local residents, the government has brought in the feared anti-riot unit ESMAD to crack down on the protesters.
Despite the government crackdown, tens of thousands of Buenaventura residents resumed protest rallies on the streets on Saturday.
Buenaventura’s poverty and unemployment rates are significantly higher than the national average. The port-city has long suffered extreme poverty due to rampant corruption.
The city’s three former mayors are in prison over embezzlement charges.
Buenaventura also suffers from mafia-style organized crime.