A teenager who became a symbol of ongoing protests in Colombia when he was injured by a teargas canister died of his wounds late on Monday, after President Ivan Duque met with unions and business leaders on the fifth straight day of demonstrations.
The death of 18-year-old Dylan Cruz, announced by the hospital where he had been receiving treatment since he was hit during a protest on Saturday, is likely to fuel criticism of the crowd dispersion tactics of the ESMAD riot police, which include tear gas and stun grenades.
Before his death was announced, protesters had marched past San Ignacio hospital chanting “Be strong Dylan!”. Some had paused at a heart-shaped flower arrangement decorated with candles and signs in his honor.
Duque said on Twitter he deeply regretted Cruz’s death and sent condolences to his mother, grandfather and two sisters.
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets over issues including economic reforms, police violence and corruption.
The protests began with a 250,000-person march last week and have been marked by neighborhood “cacerolazo” demonstrations - a traditional Latin American protest in which people bang pots and pans.
Protesters of all ages have declared themselves against rumored economic plans such as a cut to the minimum wage for young people that Duque denies supporting. They have also highlighted what they say is a lack of government action to stop the murder of hundreds of human rights activists.