Bogotá protests are still going, with students in the Parque Nacional already.
9.30am: Students and other protestors were gathering already in the Parque Nacional. Others grouped near the Universidad Distrital Jose Del Caldas just down the road. The entire séptima running along the park has been covered in flyers asking thought-provoking questions, and they’re hanging signs denouncing the government and police.
The group was joined by a handful of Misak indigenous people and a healthy sprinkling of unionists. There’s also plenty of traditional musicians and dancers. As usual, there’s drumming, dancing, and singing, but the banners are back, especially supporting the CUT and the Comité del Paro.
Unlike yesterday or even Wednesday, the police presence is very much visible already. On previous days they’ve hung back at the start, only making their presence felt relatively late on or at potential conflict points such as Ecopetrol or outside government buildings.
Today, there was a line of riot shields (not full ESMAD) bizarrely protecting the monument of Rafael Uribe Uribe in the park. Perhaps they are worried about vandalism (which hasn’t affected the monument yet), or simply want to make their presence known. So far it’s hard to say.
The rain won’t arrive for a while, so the party seems set to continue.
The Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá (Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra) were playing again this morning, at the Plaza de los Artesanos. The musicians want to promote a message of peaceful protests and encourage Colombians to get vaccinated.
Early this morning the UN in Colombia responded to reports of violence and called on the government to ensure the right to peaceful protest.
1pm: The number of students had grown significantly and séptima was briefly closed in both directions.
That didn’t last long, though, and the protest formed in two different groups: dancing and drumming just away from the Uribe Uribe monument and students making signs and placards by the 39.
The dancers and drummers numbered maybe 100 for a long time, but were eventually bolstered by other groups – one coming from the north and the other coming from the south. The northern group blocked the roads, while the southerners brought more drums. It morphed into a kind of mini-Love Parade.
By 2pm, about 500 people were gathered at the Parque Nacional, with smaller groups reported at various points across the city. There were road blocks on Calle 80 with Carrera 120 and Avenida Boyaca with Calle 71.
At 5.30pm, the TransMilenio reports the following stations are closed: Caracas, Caracas Sur, Calle 26, Calle 80, Troncal Suba, and Troncal Américas.
As night falls, the techno-car is heading north on Septima towards Hippies, we imagine. It’s slowly making its way up the road with a large contingent of police in attendance. ESMAD were stepping up their presence as we left the park, and it’s hard to know what will happen next. For now, it’s been quiet and relatively peaceful, but there’s an edge coming into the air.