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What you should know about the National strike in Colombia

On November 21, thousands of Colombians will take the streets to ask the government to respond to causes that generate general disagreement.

Group of people during a protest.

Group of people during a protest. / Photo: Rawpixel - Reference Image

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

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Leer en español: Lo que debe saber del Paro Nacional en Colombia

The recent resignation of Colombian Defense Minister Guillermo Botero unleashed a discontent in civil society that will take to the streets on November 21 in the so-called March for Democracy.

Social organizations, unions, students, indigenous people, and environmental defenders are some of the sectors that will go out and ask the government to have better action against what is happening in the country. Pension reform, labor reform, fracking and other measures that threaten the environment, leaders killed, the death of minors in a bombing and budget for higher education are some of the reasons why Colombians will leave to march.

On November 5, in the midst of a debate on the motion of censure against Botero, Senator Roy Barreras uncovered the murder of 8 minors in a bombing product of an attack by the Armed Forces. This fact led to the resignation of the minister but the decision was not enough for Colombians. After knowing the death, and subsequent update in which allegedly there would have been not 8 but 18 minors, part of civil society has shown its dissatisfaction with the presidential management of President Iván Duque.

The call to the streets has generated a wave of controversy regarding rights in social protests. Days before the National Unemployment, a video circulated through social networks where a hooded man called for violence during the protests that will take place on Thursday. This video has been a tool of the sectors that are in favor of the government and against the demonstrations to demerit the social actions that are intended to be carried out during the National Unemployment.

The call to the streets comes at a critical moment throughout the region, because throughout Latin America, civil society has taken to the streets to ask their governments to respond to the people.

It began a few weeks ago in Ecuador, passing through Bolivia and Chile, where the demonstrations ended in the resignation of the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, and a change of the cabinet of Sebastián Piñera, in Chile. Now, drenched in the desire to protest and raise their voices, Colombians have called to the streets. For its part, Venezuela also returned to the streets called by the opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

The atmosphere of protests in Latin America has left injured, dead, and facilities in the destroyed cities, so the concern of some sectors, and as the presidency itself has stated, is that social protest gets out of hand and becomes in vandalism

That, in addition to the false information that is propagated, has affected the purpose of the demonstrations that will take place on Thursday. To counter this information, political leaders and important public figures such as singers and journalists have sought ways to demystify these budgets by calling for a peaceful demonstration and rejecting attempts to stigmatize the march.

 

Read also What you should know about the resignation of the Colombian Minister of Defense

 

Meanwhile, given the alleged threats of violence during the demonstrations, government supporters have published their rejection of the marches on social networks. The President of the Republic, Iván Duque, who is the most criticized in the motives of the National Unemployment, has affirmed on different occasions that he supports the peaceful march, but not the violent protests that he describes as an act of vandalism. In his Twitter account, he spoke of "exemplary sanctioning those who seek to appeal to violence and vandalism."

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President Duque referred to the Public Force as responsible for protecting citizens from "vandalism or aggression." The declarations have been criticized because the Public Force in Colombia has had a violent history by attempting not only against those who establish chaos but also against those who march peacefully, which has been denounced repeatedly by the citizens.

 

As a result of the atmosphere that is lived in the cities in the previous days, the militarized streets have been seen in some sectors, as Caracol reported on the presence of military personnel around the District University and the Javeriana University (private), wherein the most Recent student demonstrations saw riots and abuses by the public force against students and even against a hospital that is located within the facilities of the private university.

However, the Ministry of Defense, under the command of the new designated minister, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, has affirmed that there will be no militarization during the demonstrations. On the contrary, he affirmed that there are 1,000 uniformed officers appointed to accompany the patrols of the National Police. This accompaniment, according to Holmes Trujillo, will only go until November 20 and will not interfere in the protests.

 

 

For now, the groups that will march peacefully, who hope to be the majority, call on the public to be aware of possible violent attacks in the demonstration by the Public Force and reject that there is any use of violence. Citizens seek to demystify the news that is propagated about vandalism and call for the demonstration to be peaceful in order to demonstrate with arguments to the government what is being requested.

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