PBI-Colombia accompanies human rights defenders participating in the National Strike
The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project accompanied three human rights organizations participating in the November 21st national strike.
PBI-Colombia tweeted that it accompanied David Ravelo (a founding member of CREDHOS) in Barrancabermeja, the Committee in Solidarity with the Political Prisoners (CSPP) and the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective Corporation (CCAJAR).
Ivan Madero of CREDHOS and Julia Figueroa and Andrea Nocove of CCALCP, who recently participated in an 8-day cross-country advocacy tour in Canada, also participated in today’s national strike.
Al Jazeera reports, “Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched through the dense city streets of Bogota and other cities across Colombia as the country joined a wave of others in South America experiencing anti-government demonstrations.”
That article adds, “Duque’s slightly-more-than-a-year in office has been marred by deep political divides, tethered especially to the government’s failure to comply with the country’s peace process, corruption and the killings of social leaders.”
It also notes, “Those tensions have only deepened in recent weeks with a massacre of indigenous people by criminal groups in the Cauca and the resignation of Duque’s defence minister after a bombing targeting dissidents of the demobilised Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group, killed at least eight children.”
More than 100 organizations backed the national strike, including numerous environmental organizations.
Semana Sostenible explains, “Stopping the killing of environmental and social leaders, stopping deforestation, prohibiting fracking and the use of glyphosate, protecting the moors and respecting popular consultations, are some of the reasons why environmentalists took to the streets to make themselves felt.”
AFP adds, “Spokesmen for several organisations backing the protests said more than one million people had marched nationwide, while Interior Minister Nancy Patricia Gutierrez counted some 207,000 protesters by the middle of the afternoon.”
And Colombia Reports noted a cacerolazo took place.
It reports, “While the [banging] of pots and pans have been used in anti-government protests elsewhere in Latin America, social media users said Colombia had never seen, or heard rather, a noise protest of this magnitude.”
By the evening, PBI-Colombia tweeted, “We request guarantees in the right to social protest, we are currently accompanying the CSPP, disproportionate violence against the civilian population cannot be justified.”
This was in response to the Bogota-based Campaña Defender la libertad (the Campaign to Defend Liberty) tweeting that the National Police and ESMAD (Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron) were “throwing stones and other unidentified objects in an attempt to dissipate the protestors who are still there.”
Telesur adds, “Since Monday, citizens have also expressed their surprise and anxiety over the presence of soldiers armed with combat weapons in Bogota, the capital of the country.” That article also notes criticism by human rights defenders that the police raided the homes of social leaders in Bogotá, Medellín and Cali prior to the national strike.
And the Associated Press reports that “the government deployed 170,000 officers to enforce security [and] closed border crossings…”
You can find more on Twitter by searching the hashtags #ParoNacional21Nov #ParoNacional #RazonesParaMarchar #100RazonesParaMarchar