Colombia: progress in negotiations between the government and the demonstrators, a month after the start of the social crisis

The beginning of a way out of the crisis? Talks between the government and representatives of the demonstrators in an attempt to resolve the social crisis in Colombia progressed on Tuesday (June 1) for the first time. The country has experienced an unprecedented popular uprising for a month, which has left nearly 60 dead and 111 missing.

Several rounds of talks between the government of Conservative President Ivan Duque and the National Strike Committee have taken place since May 7, without however allowing a prior agreement to be reached. The Colombian executive demands, before negotiating, the lifting of the roadblocks which paralyze many roads, in particular in the southwest, causing shortages and the exasperation of part of the population.

However, a compromise could be reached on this issue. Fabio Arias, one of the spokespersons for the National Strike Committee, which brings together trade unionists, students, indigenous movements, said on Tuesday that the “reconciliations to remove the dams” erected by demonstrators.

The National Strike Committee, the body that initiated the protest movement launched on April 28, does not represent all the sectors in revolt against the government. However, an agreement with the most visible body of the demonstrators would be seen as an important step towards defusing the crisis.

Social sling first erupted against a tax reform project aimed at increasing VAT, while the health crisis linked to the Covid-19 epidemic, which has impoverished many Colombians, is far from over. The project has since been withdrawn. But the uprising then turned into a movement to challenge police brutality during protests and calls for more social justice in a country with the greatest inequalities in Latin America.

The crisis took a new turn with the deaths of 13 people in a single day in Cali, Colombia’s third largest city, on May 28. Civilians wearing bulletproof vests and carrying pistols and rifles, among other things, shot at the demonstrators, in front of the police. This situation prompted the UN High Representative for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to call for a “independent investigation “ on the clashes in Cali.

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