Friday, November 22, 2019

Colombia joins the list of unrest

Is there now the birth of a world movement against entrenched privilege and power. The SOYMB blog has posted about several examples of people taking to the streets to protest against their governments. From Chile to the Lebanon. 

Hundreds of thousands of Colombians have taken to the streets to protest against its deeply unpopular government. Pensioners, students, teachers and union members joined marches across the country in one of biggest mass demonstrations in recent years.  Riot police fired teargas at protesters who had blocked bus routes. Despite torrential rain, thousands of people filled Bogota's historic Plaza de Simón Bolívar. Protest organizers said more than 1 million people demonstrated across the country
A general strike was prompted by proposed cuts to pensions. Protesters are angry over rumored austerity measures in the offing. Though the reform was never formally announced, it became a lightning rod for widespread dissatisfaction with the conservative government of President Iván Duque, whose approval rating has dropped to just 26% since he took office in August last year. Duque's government had deployed 170,000 officers for security enforcements and closed border crossings. 
Many expressed anger at the perceived slow-walking of the rollout of the country’s historic 2016 peace deal with the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (or Farc) rebel group. That accord formally ended five decades of civil war that killed 260,000 and forced more than 7 million to flee their homes.  Some say Duque has done little to protect social leaders and indigenous people, who are being murdered at alarming rates. Public fury has also been stoked by a recent airstrike against a camp of dissident rebel drug traffickers, which left eight minors dead.
“We live in a country that kills children, that kills social leaders, with a government that is against peace,” said Alexandra Guzmán, a businesswoman who hires ex-Farc members to work at her furniture workshop. “That is why we have to change something. We cannot continue to live like this.”
“It is not the economy that is growing like Duque and his friends say. It is the profits of the bankers that are growing, which means that they are draining the economy,” tweeted Gustavo Petro, an opposition senator who ran against Duque for the presidency last year, ahead of the march.
“I’m marching today because my generation need a pension when we grow old,” said María Rodríguez, a student who was marching with her colleagues. “We have to stand up for our rights.”
The nation still has one of the highest levels of inequality in South America. Nearly 11 per cent of Colombians are out of work – a figure that jumps to 17.5 per cent for young adults.

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