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26 Nov 2019 | 11:30 PM UTC

Colombia: Labor unions call for nationwide general strike November 27 /update 10

Unions and civil society groups call for a nationwide general strike on November 27 after talks break down with the government; associated protests and business disruptions expected

security
transportation
COL

Event

Multiple labor unions and student organizations are calling for a nationwide general strike on Wednesday, November 27, after talks broke down with the government. Supporters are being asked to take to the streets at 12:00 (local time) and hold cacerolazos in cities across the country. Protest leaders are also organizing vigils for a student who was killed during recent protests after being hit in the head with a tear gas canister. Significant transportation and business disruptions are anticipated in the capital Bogotá and other major urban areas. Dozens of TransMilenio bus stations remain closed in the capital as of Tuesday, November 26, after vandals damaged them while rioting the previous week. A heightened security presence is also anticipated around all protests. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.

Protest leaders met with President Iván Duque on Tuesday to start a dialogue but the meeting failed to produce an agreement. Leaders of the National Strike Committee accused Duque of refusing to negotiate on their demands. The protesters are calling for the government to withdraw its controversial tax reform plan and to disband the ESMAD riot police unit.

Additional strikes and protests are expected across Colombia, particularly in Bogotá, in the near term.  

Context

Several unions and civil society groups have been organizing nationwide protests and strikes since November 21 to protest the policies of President Iván Duque's administration, including the alleged support of unpopular economic plans and the perceived lack of government action to counter killings of human rights activists and rein in corruption. As of November 25, three people have reportedly been killed in protests. Heightened security measures were approved across Colombia in anticipation of the protests, permitting local authorities to implement curfews and restrict civilian movement.

Advice

Individuals in Bogotá and across Colombia are advised to closely monitor developments, avoid all protests and large public gatherings due to potential violence, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.