Colombians continue national strike

Protest in solidarity with the Colombian people in Sydney on November 24. Photo: Fred Fuentes.

Since November 21, people have mobilised across Colombia to reject President Iván Duque’s anti-people and neoliberal policies.

On November 27, hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, workers and members of feminist, human rights, Indigenous, peasant and social organisations as well as trade unions, participated in mobilisations across the country.

In the capital Bogotá, huge numbers of people gathered at the National Park and marched to the Plaza de Bolívar, to reject the national government’s austerity measures and the heavy police repression of social protests.

Large-scale demonstrations were also held in Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cali and Medellín.

The mobilisations were part of a general strike, called by the National Strike Committee, in the absence of any agreement being reached in talks with the government that began on November 26.

In the talks, committee representatives presented Duque with a 13 point charter of demands, which includes the immediate withdrawal of a decree to privatise public companies, immediate dissolution of the Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron (ESMAD) and reform of the National Police, implementation of measures to stop the genocide of social, peasant and Indigenous leaders, compliance with the peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP), and to honour agreements signed by the former government with teachers, peasants, Indigenous organisations and trade unions.

The National Strike Committee is a platform bringing together trade unions and peoples’ organisations, which have been on strike since November 21.

The November 27 strike was also called to pay tribute to 18-year-old student Dilan Cruz, who died after he was shot by an ESMAD officer.

The previous day, the committee called for a national cacerolazo (a protest in which people bang pots and pans) in Cruz’s memory and to demand an end to state repression and the criminalisation of protests.

Huge numbers of women participated in the anti-government mobilisations on November 25, as the day also marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Thousands of women mobilised across the country, to reject gender-based inequality and insecurity, as well as to commemorate the women who have been killed and have suffered from gender based violence.

ESMAD officers have been attacking protesters with tear gas, stun grenades, water cannons and unconventional weapons throughout the mobilisations.

In seven days of anti-government protests, more than 800 people were detained and around 100 were seriously injured.

[Compiled from People’s Dispatch.]