Colombia: Why Are The Protests Returning To The Streets?

This July 20, several Colombian social sectors will march again. The Government fears that the protests of April 28 that lasted more than 2 months will be repeated.

Protests in Colombia

In principle, the young people of the front line who have been the main protesters during the National Strike, see on this date a new incentive to retake the streets and pressure the Government. Photo: Flickr-Oxi.Ap

LatiAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Colombia: ¿Por qué vuelven las protestas a las calles?

The memory of the National Strike marches that began on April 28 after the government of Iván Duque sent Congress a tax reform that sought to clean up the country's fiscal gap is still fresh. This July 20, Colombians return to the streets, the question is why.

The simple explanation is to take advantage of the date of the Cry of Independence (national holiday) to reaffirm the discontent with the Government. But the most complicated answer has many more edges.

In principle, the young people of the front line who have been the main protesters during the National Strike, see on this date a new incentive to take back the streets and pressure the Government.

You may also be interested in: Infographic: 2 months of the Colombian National Strike

It is true that President Iván Duque gave in to various requests demanded by the protesters. But the strategy of not talking to the people who were in the streets, represented to a great extent by the front line, made the discontent among them not be appeased. Precisely, this is why groups from several cities in the country announced a great mobilization to the capital named "national outpost."

Another struggle they are marching for is the constant state repression to which they were subjected during the months of the National Strike. According to the NGO Temblores, since April 28, its GRITA platform registered 44 homicides related to the protests. 45% of these deaths (20) were at the hands of the police; 25% (11) committed by the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD), which also belongs to the Police; 9% (4) in a joint action by the police and ESMAD; 4% (2) by the CTI; and 15% (7 homicides) have yet to be defined.

There is also dissatisfaction with the little self-criticism that the Government has had, despite several complaints and recommendations made by international organizations, such as the IACHR, which produced a detailed report after visiting the country for several days. The Government has defended itself by justifying state violence by vandalism or violence in demonstrations.

The formation of a new legislature

This July 20 is also the date that Congress returns to sessions and the fourth and last term of this parliament will begin, which will go to elections in the first half of next year.

The protesters also hope to generate pressure for the restart of Congress because discussions of important projects will come. Like the new tax reform with which Duque seeks to collect more taxes, reduce spending, call out to international markets and maintain social projects. Despite the fact that this new project has a greater acceptance by the parties, in the period prior to elections, not everything is guaranteed.

Electoral panorama 2021

It is no secret to anyone that the next elections (president and congress) are less than a year away and any political activity today will have electoral repercussions tomorrow. Both movements close to President Duque, as well as those of the opposition, have seen in this social outbreak an opportunity to obtain electoral benefits.

However, the low popularity with which Duque has remained, a year of a slow economic reactivation and a resurgence of violence in the countryside, make the movements (not only parties) of the left smell the weakness of the executive and do not hesitate to keep pressing

Bogotá prepares for a new day of marches

The mayor of Bogotá and the defense and interior ministers announced this weekend that more than six thousand police officers and almost three thousand soldiers will be guaranteeing the peaceful protest.

Claudia López, mayor of the capital invited “everyone to join in the celebration of independence. To express their voice peacefully and to be fully certain that we have a coordinated and joint effort to guarantee peaceful mobilization and to prevent or, eventually, capture and prosecute anyone who intends to commit a violent act of vandalism in our area town".

Health crisis

One of the biggest concerns is the increase in positive cases and deaths from COVID-19. Just on Sunday, the country registered 18,206 new infections and 476 deaths. Although the figure is lower than in previous days, the high saturation of hospitals remains a latent concern.

“We are just recovering, coming out of Red Alert, from a third peak that we could all have avoided together. We cannot, under any circumstances, break the Collective Care Pact again”, asked the mayor.