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Anti-riot police confront protesters in Bogotà Anti-riot police confront protesters in Bogotà  (ANSA)

General strike in Colombia defies government crackdown

One month since Nationwide protests flared in Colombia, protest leaders are today launching a General Stike. Less than a week ago Pope Francis prayed for an end to political and social strife in Colombia and for a cessation of violence against protesters whom, he said, have the right to demonstrate peacefully.

By James Blears

It all began with a proposed tax hike by the Colombian Government, which would have affected everyone earning the equivalent of seven hundred dollars monthly. Intended to financially dig legislators out of a deep economic hole,  due to the pandemic and other woes, it instead buried them in an avalanche of anger and discontent over a multitude of extra issues. The Government backed down, scrapping the measure, but then announced they`d revisit it in another form, adhering to full consultation and input. 

 

President Ivan Duque`s popularity in the opinion polls has now plummeted to an all time low, for a Colombian Leader. The Government is under intense financial and political pressure, which is increasing. Both sides are urging restraint today, so as not to fall back into the cycle of violence.  Previous harsh actions by the Police and Military in trying to quell demonstrations have significantly fuelled fury and resentment.  

Structural reform is necessary, but current talks appear to be stalling and going nowhere.  The Government`s Chief Negotiator Miguel Ceballos resigned on Saturday. 

Protest numbers have been dwindling recently, but that`s likely to change today. 

Listen to the report by james Blears
28 May 2021, 16:17