Nation-wide strike in Colombia: Trade unions, indigenous people, women, students join hands

colombia strike

Amidst the increase in the numbers of massacres and murders of social leaders and former members of the then Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) a nation-wide strike has gripped Colombia since Wednesday. The strike has hit the country’s main cities.

Supported by peasant organizations, women, Afro-descendant and LGBTI communities and student groups, the mobilizations will be peaceful and democratic and take place in a single concentration point in each of the cities, said the Central Workers Union (CUT).

The president of the CUT Diógenes Orjuela explained that the strike would clarify the position of absolute rejection of the massacres and murders that have occurred in the country in recent months, as well as the repression exercised by the police.

He also stressed that the protests would condemn the management of President Ivan Duque and the emergency decrees issued during the COVID-19 pandemic, the disregard for social organizations, and the rulings issued by the judicial sector.

Among the demands will also be the emergency document discussion, which includes 104 points and raises the need for a basic income, the protection of women and vulnerable sectors, support for small and medium enterprises, and the repeal of Decree 1174 regarding the social protection floor.

The mobilizations will coincide with the indigenous peaceful protest march (Minga), concentrated in Bogotá with the idea of holding a face-to-face meeting with Duque, something that has been impossible to date given the leader’s constant refusals.

Some of the reasons for the strike

The indigenous communities are demanding an end to the violence, an intensification of the fight against poverty, and compliance with the 2016 Peace Accords, signed by the FARC-EP.

Its leaders intend to present the demands to President Duque in a direct dialogue, without mediators. Still, everything seems to indicate that the meeting will never occur, despite the intentions of the Minga to remain concentrated in the capital until its objectives are achieved.

All of these protest movements occur at a time of high tension for Colombia because of the increasingly frequent massacres of social leaders and activists in the country.

Furthermore, on the issue of the COVID-19, the coffee-producing nation is the seventh most infected country on the planet, only behind the U.S., India, Brazil, Russia, Spain, and Argentina, due primarily to the poor response of the government.

Duque left Bogota

Colombia’s President Ivan Duque Monday night urgently left Bogota to avoid a meeting with the Minga that arrived in the capital from the Cauca Department on Sunday.

Duque left the city to “do a safety review, address citizen complaints, and evaluate social investments in the Choco Department,” the government said. The President will not attend the beginning of the Bogota Metro works, which was scheduled on Tuesday.

A 600 km march

On Monday, the Indigenous peoples, Afro communities and social organizations that integrate the Social Minga, took to the streets of Bogota after traveling for five days and about 600 kilometers from the Cauca Department.

During the peaceful protest, the Minga placed an empty chair in Bolivar Square as a symbol of Duque’s place in a face-to-face dialogue with the movement’s representatives.

On October 6, over 7,000 Indigenous people invited the President to a meeting that he never attended in the Cauca Department. A week later, the Minga movement made its way to the capital to demand a personal meeting with Duque.

The government has not commented on when the President will return to the government’s headquarters after his last-minute trip to Choco.

The Indigenous peoples and farmers demand Duque’s response over the systematic murders of social leaders in the country’s interior.

Minga reaches Bogota

An earlier report said:

About 8,000 Indigenous people who are part of the social Minga Sunday arrived in Bogota a week after leaving Cauca Department to meet with President Ivan Duque.

Bogota’s Mayor Claudia Lopez explained the protocols to receive and guarantee the peaceful mobilization of the Minga. The mayor warned that the conflict between the Minga and the national government “affects” the city.

4 indigenous leaders murdered

Four indigenous community organizations were murdered during the last 24 hours in Colombia due to three violent events in the departments of Huila, Cauca, and Córdoba.

Community members Avelino Ipia and Hector David Marin were shot dead in the Guaico Alizal village, in the Caucan municipality of Caldono. They were attacked by armed men on Monday night, amid circumstances unknown to judicial bodies until now.

The mayor of Caldono, Jose Vicente Otero, denounced the incident. “We are in mourning for the vile murder of two community members, inhabitants of our municipality. They were passing through the place and were surprised by criminals who murdered them,” explained the official.

“It cannot be possible that the families of Caldas continue to mourn their dead in these times of peace and territorial harmony. My solidarity with these families and total rejection of these acts of violence that our population mourns” added the mayor.

In response to what happened, a commission made up of indigenous and civil authorities went to the site to remove the bodies and begin an investigation to find the whereabouts of the perpetrators.

On the other hand, Aurelio Jumi Domico, vice-governor of the Quebrada Cañaveral Emberá Katío Indigenous Reservation in San Jorge, was murdered this Tuesday morning in the village of Ibudó – Tres Playitas, in the municipality of Puerto Libertador, in the province of Córdoba.

Domico was a recognized leader of that community, a spokesman for the departmental Peace and Human Rights Council, and the Mesa de Garantías for leaders and defenders of Córdoba denounced the Cordoberxia Foundation.

Few details are known about this new attack on social and indigenous leaders in Córdoba, taking place while the Social Minga is in Bogotá.

In another crime that occurred in the village of Las Vueltas in Huila’s rice capital, in southern Colombia, social and rural leader Eduardo Alarcón was murdered by a group of armed men who arrived at his farm on a motorcycle and shot at him.

Eduardo Alarcón was a recognized agrarian leader in Huila, who, together with other small farmers, managed to divide up several large estates in Llano Grande, in the municipality of Campo Alegre. He was a councilman in this municipality and a champion of agrarian and social struggles, belonging to the Alternative Pole.

The authorities went to the site to carry out the acts of investigation, but there has been no official statement on the matter.



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