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Street Gang's Extortion Causes Massive Bus Strike in Medellin

Extortion by street gangs has been a way of life for bus drivers in Medellin for years. But recent refusals to pay -- and subsequent murders of drivers -- has led to a massive bus strike.
August 1, 2011, 8am PDT | Nate Berg
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"More than 50,000 people have been affected by the strikes in more than nine neighborhoods in northeast Medellin, the second biggest city in Colombia and the capital of the state of Antioquia. The group claiming responsibility for the murder, Los Muchachos, demands 50,000 pesos (US$25) per week from bus drivers. Jesus Botero Vera is the fifth bus driver to be killed in Medellin this year.

The bus drivers have been on strike since July 22 to demand better protection from extortionist gangs. This strike comes only one week after a similar protest to demand better security from police and administration officials. The strike stopped more than 170 buses from four routes and metro integration. Opportunist taxi drivers have taken advantage of the situation gouging residents with high prices to transport them to and from the neighborhood."

Locals are calling for more law enforcement to reduce the gangs' hold over drivers.

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Published on Thursday, July 28, 2011 in The City Fix
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