Strike Committee suspends protest dialog with Colombian government
(Update 1: Adds CNP statement, rewrites second half, changes headline)
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 said in a statement that it suspended the talks because the government “is not interested and has purposely delayed the negotiation of the emergency document.”
It recalled that in 2019 “the government proposed to talk and did not want to negotiate” and that, given the handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis, the CNP presented on “June 19, 2020 the Emergency Document. From that day until May 16, 2021, 11 months later, the government refuses to negotiate the document.”
It pointed out that the attitude of the executive “leads us to suspend the negotiation and evaluate the continuity of the talks carried out with the government.”
The CNP said it will deliver to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) a preliminary agreement dated May 24 that deals with the “minimums to guarantee the exercise of peaceful social protests.”
The IACHR will begin a visit to the country next Tuesday to assess respect for human rights during the protests in the country.
The CNP also requested that the government repeal a decree by means of which it authorizes military deployment in cities where public order is disturbed on account of the protests.
It also reaffirmed its condemnation of violence, its attachment to peaceful mobilization and its decision to “demand that the damage to public and private property and the vandalism of the public forces and individuals cease.”
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