So I know I said earlier I am not the sort of person to read the paper, and that is kind of true, but really I should clarify. I love the paper—I do not like most news (I also love ken-ken). I am the kid who steals the science section or whatever else does not have the middle east all over it. In light of this, I have started reading El Tiempo, the main Colombian newspaper, online.
But sometimes you can just encounter the news outside.
Friday morning I headed out towards our local Transmilenio stop only to discover a line of all the buses backed up, the station closed, and people getting off the buses in the middle of the road (unlike busetas, you only get off at the station). I was irritated but did not think anything of it, and only later saw pictures of the chaos happening at other stops like the one above.
There is a joke in New York that the cost of the subway is the same as a slice of pizza, and indeed last time I was there despite the fare increase this was true. The fare also just went up this year for the Transmi, and while I can’t recall if it was the same as the last slice of pizza I had, Bogotános are not happy about it. Friday was the worst attack on the system in all of its twelve years of operation.
Bogotá is one of the largest cities without a subway system and the Transmilenio is not as wonderful as it might be. It’s pricy, gets very crowded, and because it is a bus, does suffer some with traffic (it also stops running at 11pm). A considerable chunk of it has been under construction since 2008, due in part to shady construction deals (that I am not exactly clear on, just money going not where it was supposed to. Perhaps part of the reason for the fair increase). Despite this, the mayor has promised to have the system fully working by Monday and is apparently going to quickly fix 1.000 million pesos of damage (about 600,000 USD).
Mainly young’ns, and hundreds of them, converged on the system in the morning around 7:30 and then proceeded to wreak havoc on five stations and block several others—including breaking into and looting ticket booths. Ten people were hurt (including two policemen), but not seriously—it was an attack on the system after all. Some of the newspaper photographers were also hurt or almost had their cameras stolen, which seems unwise on the protester’s part because don’t they want coverage? Mob mentality. Bunch of people were arrested and lots of minors were returned to their parents, but the police are still offering money for more information on the vandals. Because of all the closed buses the mayor lifted pico y placa and naturally there was plenty of traffic because of it.
I feel like protests are becoming a normal thing in my mind, and that is kind of weird. That Friday the university was also closed (so the mamertos wouldn’t make a mess I assume) and as I grouchily accepted this I bought a snickers and went back home. Last Thursday something or other was going on in the center and the last two stops were closed so I couldn’t take my tour out of Candelaria. Is destroying things an effective way of getting things done? It sure looks fun, but I am not sure.
News details are translated from El Tiempo articles, which have even more details if you are interested. I would link to the English Colombia Reports but all they did was cite El Tiempo and say less than I did. There is also a photo gallery. So there was your bonus weekend update! Keep you posted on what happens.