Oil Protests Turn Deadly as 79 Police Taken Hostage and 2 People Killed

After residents took hostages 79 officers from the police, protests in Colombia turned violent. Two people were killed in the violence.

Residents of Colombia’s southern Caqueta Province blocked the compound of Emerald Energy, an oil company owned by China. Along with dozens police officers, they also took hostages nine workers from the oil fields.

Protesters demanded that the government repair and construct new roads in the region. Ricardo Monroy (police officer) and a civilian were killed during the blockade. In a Twitter statement, President Gustavo Petro denounced the deaths.

Petro stated that a popular movement, which was expelled by the influence of groups who want to destroy this government or subsume Colombian in war, ended up killing a young officer.

He said, “I expect the perpetrators to unilaterally liberate government officials before any new escalation in violence is caused.” He also stated that the attorney general’s Office should investigate the killings.

Violence broke out in a part of San Vicente del Caguan, where members from Indigenous and rural communities blocked oil fields access and set fire to them. According to police sources, both victims died of gunshot wounds.

Colombian officers paid tribute on Twitter to Monroy, writing that he had “offered his life for the line of duty.”

Colombia’s Human Rights Ombudsman Carlos Carmargo was on-site to mediate with protesters and said that he prevented them from throwing more Molotov cocktails towards the oil facility.

Colombia is a country where protests are common in areas near oil and mining projects. Communities push for infrastructure improvements, such as roads and schools.

Authorities in the country are concerned that FARC rebels who rejected the 2016 peace agreement may be active in the area and provoking unrest. FARC was delisted by the U.S. as a terrorist foreign organization in 2021. The United States claimed that it no longer exists as an organized group engaged in terrorism.

Petro separately requested an investigation into his brother and son for alleged corruption. However, he didn’t specify the accusation but said, “My government won’t give out benefits to criminals for bribes.” BBC reported.