Colombia expels 59 Venezuelans who took part in protests

Bogota (AFP) –


Colombia said Monday it is expelling 59 Venezuelans for taking part in street protests, as another big march was planned despite the launch of a national dialogue to address corruption, economic inequality and other woes.

The Venezuelans have been classified as a threat to public order and national security, the government’s migration agency said.

Since last Thursday Colombia has been hit by unprecedented mass protests against the government of unpopular conservative President Ivan Duque, thus joining a wave of grassroots anger that, for different reasons, has swept through Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia.

Colombians want Duque to fight harder against corruption, improve public education and provide for more equitable economic growth. They are also concerned about management of a 2016 peace deal with leftist FARC rebels, which is unpopular with many Colombians.

Duque's administration also has to deal with hosting 1.4 million refugees fleeing neighboring Venezuela's economic meltdown,

Christian Kruger, the director of Colombia Migration, said the country had welcomed the 59 Venezuelans now due for expulsion as it did so many people from their beleaguered country.

"But we will not tolerate a group of misfits coming to threaten the safety of our streets," Kruger said in a statement.

He said the actions of these Venezuelans triggers "outbreaks of xenophobia" that hurts the reputation of good hardworking Venezuelans.

Police had earlier reported that during a night of curfew on Friday 29 Venezuelans were arrested in Bogota and Cali for violating that order.

Duque took part Sunday in the launch of a national dialogue with mayors and other government officials to address the gripes of the protesters, who were not represented in that initial session.

People marched again Sunday and another big procession has been called for Monday by a major trade union.