Bogotá on maximum alert ahead of Independence Day protests

The threat that Bogotá will be targeted by urban terrorists on the day the country celebrates its Independence Day – 20 de Julio – has dominated the security agenda between the district and national government.

On Saturday, after a security council meeting with Defense Minister Diego Molano, Interior Minister Daniel Palacios and district Security Secretariat Aníbal Fernández de Soto, Mayor López sent a stern warning to youngsters holding the “first line” of protests, stating that the Attorney General’s Office will prosecute swiftly all acts of vandalism and violence on city streets.

To guarantee some degree of tranquility to Bogotanos after the capital has been systematically attacked by vandals for almost three months (or since anti-government demonstrations began with the declaration of the national strike on April 28), some 6,200 police and 2,700 soldiers have been deployed to guarantee the safety of citizens and protect the capital’s transportation infrastructure. “Our security forces are ready to accompany all peaceful demonstrations nationwide,” affirmed Molano.

The head of the Defense portfolio revealed that urban militias of the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla have established “operations centers” in Bogotá, as well as Medellín and Cali, to “provide monetary and logistical support” to vandals. Many of the vandals have formed “first lines” to attack anti-riot police with machetes, fire bombs and improvised explosives. The start of a new round in anti-government protests comes less than a week after Bogotá’s ICU occupation lowered to the Red Alert threshold of 80% (2,160 units used of a total 2,700), and percentage not seen since April 15.

Marches and road blockades have been announced for 35 locations in the city, including a protest in Bogotá historic Plaza de Bolívar while lawmakers attend the opening plenary of a new Congressional year.

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