Colombia: Young Man Dies in Riots Triggered by Blackout in Barranquilla

EspañolA power outage of more than 48 hours in Barranquilla and Soledad, Colombia, caused protests and riots in both cities. The death of 18-year old Julio Escurriao was one of the unfortunate outcomes. Amid the chaos, Escurriao was shot in the abdomen and the culprits remain unknown.

Officials said the closure of streets during the protests had prevented immediate medical attention for the victim and caused his death.

The protests began on Sunday when the Electricaribe electrical company reported three scheduled times for restoration of the service, which they subsequently failed to meet. On Monday, the protests continued and members of the Mobile Anti Riot Squadron (ESMAD) responded to them with tear gas.

Electricaribe said the service would be restored on Monday night, but on Tuesday 80 neighborhoods of Barranquilla were still without electric service. In the surrounding area of Soledad, 29 sectors were also left without water, due to a pumping station that was affected by the blackout.

Elsa Noguera, mayor of Barranquilla, convened a special security council to discuss the situation as the riots degenerated into looting, attacks on buses, and even on an ambulance of the Caribbean Emergency Network. On Monday night, transport network Transmetro reported the suspension of its operations to protect the safety of its workers, since two of them were wounded in an attack on a station.

The Ombudsman asked the Superintendent of Public Utilities to investigate whether there was negligence on the part of Electricaribe, since it is known that telephone complaints of customers prior to the blackout were reported, yet the company failed to avoid the loss of service in 13 circuits.

Sources: El Espectador, El Univresal, El Tiempo.

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