Angry residents shut down northeast Colombia border city

Posted on Apr 3 2014 - 6:28pm by Rico
(Photo: La Opinion)

Hundreds of residents of Cucuta on Thursday took part in a shut-down of the northeastern city, in protest of ongoing economic hardship in the city that is suffering from impeded trade with the neighboring Venezuela. 

The city’s inhabitants took to the streets, protesting for the worsening economic condition of the region, while taxi rivers blocked Cucuta’s main entry and exit routes.

Unemployment, lack of social and economic investment, high prices for public services and halted trade with Venezuela because of ongoing political tensions in the neighboring country are factors that spurred the Cucuta strike.

The strike was actively supported by people from various areas such as owners of local businesses, taxi drivers, workers in the health department, street vendors, students, furriers and even religious communities. As a result of the strike, 80% of businesses closed and 70% of the city’s public transport was forced to suspend the service.

The protesters were particularly vocal about Mayor Donamaris Ramirez.

The criticized mayor of Cucuta responded to the protest sending more that 450 men from the heavily armed anti-riot police.

According to Cucuta Public Security Secretary Ruby Johana Ascanio, the protests were illegal as they didn’t follow the legal procedures for getting permission.

Ascanio said that authorities should be given a two-weeks notice which protesters allegedly failed to do. Therefore, “if anything will happen, people being injured or fainting, the responsibility goes directly to the organizers and not to the municipal administration.”

In response to the protests, President Juan Manuel Santos tweeted to be “studying additional measures” and will organize a ministers’ council in the capital of the Norte de Santander state.

Sources

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