The fourteenth day of protest will see a third national strike

By Lukas Kaldenhoff December 3, 2019

Strike leaders announce ‘El Paro sigue’ after meeting with the government does not reach consensus on key issues.

The protests continue as Colombia has its third national strike in two weeks.
The protests continue as Colombia has its third national strike in two weeks. Photo: Michael Marangos

A meeting between members of the national strike committee (CNP) and the Colombian government ended today (December 3) without progress. Calls from strike leaders to ban ESMAD from the marches and allow them a television appearance were rejected.

The idea of the talks had been to agree on a roadmap that defined how the talks could move forward, although the CNP were already insisting that tomorrow’s national strike would continue as planned.

Diego Molano, who was appointed by Duque to lead the National conversation, called on the CNP yesterday to cancel tomorrow’s strike so that it would stop damaging the country’s economy. 

ESMAD presence in protests

Speaking to El Tiempo today, Molano labelled two of the strike leaders’ demands “impossible”. One of those is that the controversial ESMAD riot police not be present during the marches tomorrow and the other is that the strike leaders be given a place on television to discuss unemployment.

Molano insisted that that ESMAD needed to be on the streets to safeguard the people and again voiced the government’s position that this should be a broad dialogue with all sectors, not just a discussion with the strike leaders. The government have not yet issued a formal statement following today’s talks.

Read all our coverage on Colombia’s national strike

One of the strike leaders and president of the central workers union, CUT, Diógenes Orjuela told press that the talks had not moved forward because there were “discrepancies” in how the two sides see the negotiation.

“We maintain the criteria that we are negotiating in the context of the demonstrations that are taking place,” he said and continued: “We will march peacefully, with colour and a Christmassy atmosphere.”

Even before the meeting, leaders were insisting the December 4 strike would go ahead. “We are willing to talk to the government, but we will not suspend the strike,” tweeted student leader Jennifer Pedraza.

December 4: Third day of national strike

Wednesday’s national strike will be the third in two weeks. There have been daily demonstrations since the first national strike on November 21 when 250,000 people took to the streets. The second national strike on November 27 marked an uptick in protest activity as tens of thousands of people paid tribute to student Dilan Cruz. He died after being shot by ESMAD riot police.

Strike action is set for 11 am tomorrow across the country. Bogotá mayor Enrique Peñalosa has reversed his decision to ban protests on Plaza de Bolívar, where many of the recent protests in the capital have convened.

What to expect from December 4?

Five marches big marches have been announced in the capital, starting from Héroes, Parque Nacional, Universidad Nacional, Parque El Tunal and Av. Boyacá with Av. 1 de Mayo. They all meet at Plaza Bolívar in centre. Two other marches will lead from the headquarter of Universidad Pedagógica Valmaría on Calle 183 #54 and from Calle 72 to Portal Norte.

In addition, more rallies are planned, especially in the north of the city. At 5 pm, strike supporters will gather around Calle 100 #15 with their preferred transportation, whether it’s car, bicycle or roller skates. Roads are expected to be blocked at Usme, Portal Norte and on Autopista Sur to Villavicencio.

It’s likely that TransMillenio will be affected by the strike as well, especially services at Suba, Héroes and Calle 80 in the north and Américas and Usme in the south.

The protests will be suported again by the indigenous guard who arrived in Bogotá at the end of last week. One of the Nasa people gathered at universidad nacional today told The Bogotá Post that as many as 2,000 of them would be marching in the capital.

There has also been an increase in anti-strike rhetoric, with government supporters saying they will wear white tomorrow to show that they do not support the strike.

Follow The Bogotá Post on twitter for up to date news on the protests.

In addition to tomorrow’s mobilisation, protest activity will continue this weekend. On Sunday the capital will see a big concert joined by several top Colombian artists to support the national strike, including Bomba Estéreo, Doctor Krápula and Totó la Momposina. It is set to start at Planetario Distrital at 8am. 

Talks between the government and strike leaders will continue on Thursday at 2pm. But as the conversation continues, so does the strike.