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COLOMBIAN NATIONAL STRIKE COMMITTEE CALLS FOR PROTEST MAY 5

The National Strike Committee in Colombia called this Tuesday for a large mobilization for next Wednesday, May 5, to demand the government comply with a series of demands related to the economy, pension systems, labor, health, and education, among other pressing issues. At a press conference, Francisco Maltés, president of the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT), Martha Alfonso, second vice president of the Federación Colombiana de Trabajadores de la Educación (Fecode) and Jennifer Pedraza, of the Asociación Colombiana de Representantes Estudiantiles de la Educación Superior (Acrees) made the respective announcement.

The committee indicated that it would continue with the protests until the government negotiates the demands presented since last November when the first demonstrations took place in rejection of the economic, social, and environmental policies of the administration of Iván Duque. It also demanded an end to the militarization of cities, which goes against the constitutional right to protest and restore democratic freedoms.  

“We once again call on all citizens to maintain and increase the mobilizations,” said the communiqué of the Strike Committee, who scheduled a new mobilization for next May 5 and recognized those already in the streets. Maltés emphasized the Colombian Government’s failure to comply with the demands presented by the movement on issues ranging from greater social justice to a profound reform in the distribution of national wealth to reach the neediest sectors.

“The reasons for the strike were not only the tax reform, the reasons have to do with the refusals of the government to negotiate the demands of the strike,” said Maltés, who affirmed that the initiation of talks to negotiate six points from a list of demands on the table since the demonstration last year has been systematically rejected. The demands are, in addition to the withdrawal of the tax reform, which has already been achieved, the withdrawal of bill 010 of the health reform, and the strengthening of the national vaccination plan.

Also, the creation of a basic income; defense of national agricultural production; support for small businesses; zero university tuition; rejection of in-person classes; and stopping forced eradication and spraying with glyphosate. During the press conference, they questioned the silence of the Ombudsman’s Office and the Human Rights Office. However, the former issued a report this Monday in which it registered 17 deaths in the development of the mobilizations.

For his part, Alfonso criticized the violence unleashed by the security forces, including the police and the army, against the demonstrators. He denounced that more than 1,890 cases of abuses committed by these bodies have been registered. Pedraza Sandoval made a call to continue with the demands to reform the health system, demilitarize the cities, and protect the right to protest—issues that are present in the agenda of mass social movements. 

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