Colombia: 60,000 teachers ‘occupy’ Bogota as strike enters second month

The teachers strike is the third in the past four years, and the fourth since President Santos took office in 2010.
Thursday, June 8, 2017

About 60,000 public school teachers gathered on the streets of Colombia’s capital, Bogota, on June 6 demanding a government response to the crisis in a sector that has witnessed a month-long all-out strike.

The teachers were joined by students, the union of rice farmers, as well as trade unionists from the Bogota Telecommunications Company and the Judicial Branch, as anger at the Juan Manuel Santos administration spilled onto the streets of Bogota.

Carlos Rivas, the president of the teachers union, Fecode, vented his anger at the government, as its refusal to acknowledge the needs of the teachers has left 8 million Colombian students out of school since May 11.

“The negotiations with the Ministry of Education have stagnated on the economic point, due to the attitude of the government that is summed up in a sentence: There is no money,” said Rivas.

The teachers have been on strike for more than a month now demanding reforms in education that would see dramatic investment in the sector in terms of pay and medical care as well as a reduction in the student-teacher ratio and improvement in school meals, among others.

The Minister of Education Yaneth Giha called the teachers’ decision to strike “unjustified,” while Rivas said “it doesn’t seem logical that there isn’t funding available for education when there’s money for corruption.”

The teachers strike is the third in the past four years, and the fourth since Santos took office in 2010.

[Abridged from Colombia Reports.]

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