Protests in Colombia: thousands of people asked Congress to hear their claims against Iván Duque

Thousands of people they protested again this Tuesday in Colombia against President Iván Duque, when a new legislature is installed in Congress, where the main spokesmen of the demonstrations hope to take their claims.

“I hope that finally that Congress start legislating in favor of the interests of the entire Colombian people and not just of a group of individuals who are getting rich, “the 46-year-old dentist Iván Chaparro told AFP as he walked in the middle of a massive festive march in the center of Bogotá.

The National Unemployment Committee, which is the largest group of protesters but does not represent all dissatisfied sectors, called for this new mobilization during the national holiday after more than a month of hiatus.

The demonstrations go through the streets of the main cities with colorful slogans that in the background demand a police reform and a more supportive state in the face of the ravages caused by the pandemic, which plunged 42% of the 50 million inhabitants into poverty.

Made up of students, indigenous people and social organizations, the Committee had suspended the mobilizations on June 15, but he returned to the streets on the Independence Day of Colombia with the aim of taking their claims to parliament.

The Committee’s requests “We are going to present them to Congress because the government did not want to negotiate”Fabio Arias, leader of the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, told W Radio.

Thousands of people gathered in different parts of Bogotá and they marched with songs, dances and Colombian flags upside down towards the central Plaza de Bolívar, but the public force blocked the way to Congress and the presidential headquarters.

“We are in the fight for the claim of our rights against health, education, non-violence, “said 30-year-old teacher Noelia Castro in the capital.

Tense weather

The mobilization takes place in a rarefied environment due to government complaints about the infiltration of armed groups in the marches, the arrests of protesters and warnings from the authorities about a possible increase in deaths and infections from covid-19 as the country emerges from the worst wave of the pandemic.

According to the Ministry of Defense, more than 65,000 police and military they guard the day of demonstrations throughout the country, in the face of the alleged participation of the ELN guerrillas and FARC dissidents in the marches.

More than 60 people have died and thousands have been injured since the protests broke out on April 28, according to the Ombudsman and civil authorities.

What started as a demonstration against a failed government plan to raise taxes on the middle class it was fueled by police repression, rejected by the international community.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which visited the country amid the protests, reported the “disproportionate” response and “lethal” of the official forces in the face of the demonstrations.

For its part, the NGO Human Rights Watch accuses the public force of being involved in at least 20 homicides during the protests, and assures that 16 of the victims were shot by state agents with the intention of “killing.”

While he has admitted cases of police violence, the government disputes the figures.

Outburst

“One cannot be indifferent to injustice, to kill the students for protesting (…) that they are attacked as if they were terrorists, “said 59-year-old teacher Jeanneth Gómez in Bogotá.

The social outbreak started in 2019 against the conservative president and since then thousands of people have demonstrated in the streets at intervals of time. The latest wave of protests began at the end of April in rejection of the tax initiative.

One year after handing over power and with an unpopularity of 76%Duque inaugurated on Tuesday morning the legislature that will have the difficult task of discussing a new tax reform.

“We hear the voices in the streets and should nurture the debates, but you are called by history to be the spokesmen of a country in full transformation, “Duque told Congress during the installation ceremony.

This time the executive renounced the most controversial points and proposed to raise $ 3.9 billion, a substantial reduction compared to the 6,300 million initiative that sparked popular anger and cost the then Minister of Finance his post.

The protests have been mostly peaceful, although there have been roadblocks, riots and clashes between civilians and the public force.

Source: AFP and EFE

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