Conflicts & War

Strike Committee suspends protest dialog, Colombian gov’t says

Bogotá, Jun 6 (EFE).- Colombia’s National Strike Committee (CNP), made up mainly of unions, has decided to “unilaterally suspend” talks over the country’s social crisis, the government said Sunday.

“Today, the committee has decided to unilaterally suspend the dialog at the dialog table. We, the government, are ready,” said government spokesman and presidential adviser for stabilization and consolidation, Emilio Archila.

The talks between the government and the committee have been ongoing without progress, with the former calling for road blockades to be lifted and the latter accusing the government of not wanting to sign guarantees to peaceful protest, limiting the use of force by the police.

In a statement, Archila on Sunday accused the CNP of having “left the country in default of solutions and without having condemned the blockades,” while they were willing to “reach a text of guarantees and, above all, to advocate for the issues” presented by the committee with demands such as a basic income and guarantees to demonstrate.

“Since the (…) committee does not represent the entire protesting population, we will maintain all the other spaces with all the other representatives, dialog with young people and in the regions will be strengthened and, despite what they did today, [we are] equally open to explore [again] with the CNP,” assured the government.

A “sample” of the will for dialog, according to Archila, is the announcement by President Iván Duque on Sunday morning to process a “substantial” reform of the police to adapt it to the international framework, after complaints over excessive use of the force in containing the protests that have shaken the country since Apr. 28.

The CNP, which has not yet confirmed that it has unilaterally abandoned the talks, has complained of Duque’s reluctance to negotiate and his “deaf attitude of delaying” the talks, as the representative of the General Confederation of Labor, Diana Gómez, said on Friday at a press conference.

The only agreement that the two parties had reached was a protocol of guarantees for the exercising of social protests that the government “has systematically refused to sign,” according to the CNP.

“The CNP ratifies its desire that it is through dialog and negotiation that the serious social problems that exist in Colombia are solved,” the president of the Central Workers Union, Francisco Maltés, said at the same press conference.

The CNP met for the first time with a government delegation headed by Duque on May 10. Since then the two sides have held regular meetings, which the president stopped attending and which were led by the High Commissioner for Peace, Miguel Ceballos, who recently resigned from office.

The protests in Colombia began on Apr. 28 against the now defunct tax reform proposal and continued with a long list of social and political demands, including ending police brutality in massive social mobilizations that have left 20 dead, according to the police, and 74 according to social organizations. EFE


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