PBI-Colombia expresses sadness at the death of Dilan Cruz; national strike protests continue
On the morning of November 26, the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Projected tweeted, “We regret the death of the young Dilan Cruz who in the exercise of his right to social protest to claim his rights was the victim of a violent attack. Violence can never be justified or used to resolve conflicts. Solidarity and love for your family.”
The Associated Press reports, “Students, women’s activists and indigenous people marched through the center of Colombia’s capital Monday [November 25] in a fifth day of protests against the government as the country recorded the first death of a demonstrator.”
“Dilan Cruz, an 18-year-old high school student, died two days after being hit in the head by a projectile reportedly fired by riot police during a protest. His case has resonated in Colombian society, touching off a debate about excessive use of force and making him a symbol for many young protesters.”
This video catches the terrible moment that Dilan was shot and the response by the police.
International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
Agencia EFA adds, “Thousands of people returned to the streets of Bogotá and other cities [on November 25] to join their claim with the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.”
“They called attention to the high number of femicides that so far this year amounts to 799 cases in the country, according to data from the National Institute of Legal Medicine.”
National Strike demands
That Agencia EFE article also explains, “The ‘national strike’ [on November 21] that led to daily mobilizations was convened by the Unitary Central of Workers (CUT), the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) and the Confederation of Workers of Colombia (CTC).”
“The unions reject labour, tax and pension system reforms that they claim the government prepares and that it denies, as well as a privatization plan, the lack of commitment to the peace agreement with the FARC and measures against the killing of leaders social, among other causes.”
The Associated Press article continues, “They have also called for more funding for public universities and are demanding a ban on fracking, a method for drilling oil which Duque has said he is open to.”
The Associated Press adds, “In response to the growing unrest, Colombia’s president launched a ‘national dialogue’ Sunday to address such issues as rural violence, environmental policy and ‘growth with equity’.”
“Duque met with recently elected governors and mayors Sunday night and held talks with business leaders and some unions Monday. [National Strike] leaders said Duque had only offered to spend one hour with the group, and they refused to attend.”
El Tiempo adds, “The dialogue will remain in effect until March 15, although Duque gave relatively few details on how exactly citizens would be involved.”
Opposition to fracking
As noted in the Associated Press report and other news article, opposition to fracking has been one of the key concerns being expressed during the protests.
On November 25, El Tiempo published their interview with Isabel Cavelier, the director of Visión de Transforma, about the upcoming United Nations COP25 climate summit in Madrid.
Cavelier says, “Neither fracking nor exploration to find new reserves are reasonable investments, because both imply greater emissions and put us all at risk.”
It is expected that fracking will begin in Colombia in 2020 with Canadian companies likely to be involved in those pilot projects. Representatives from the Colombian human rights groups CREDHOS and CCALCP recently took part in an advocacy tour in Canada organized by Peace Brigades International to highlight their concerns about fracking.
It does not appear that the Government of Canada has commented yet on the national strike protests beyond a Canadian embassy tweet, “Protests may continue in the next few days and happen without notice. There have been clashes between protesters and public forces, which have caused victims. Avoid manifestations.”
The Government of Canada has also posted, “Labour unions called for a nationwide general strike on November 21, 2019. Large demonstrations have taken place in several cities across the country. Clashes between protesters and security forces have occurred, resulting in casualties. Police have used tear gas to disperse crowds. Protests may continue in the coming days. They could happen without notice and suddenly turn violent. Local authorities may impose curfews without notice.”
Shortly after this article was posted, the Canadian Embassy in Colombia tweeted: “We deeply regret the death of young Dilan Cruz and express all our solidarity with his family. Canada recognizes the exercise of the right to peaceful protest and calls for it to be respected and exercised in peace.”
To see the latest updates on the national strike on Twitter, see the hashtags #ParoNacional #ParoNacional26N #HuelgaGeneral #ParoNacionalIndefinido #DilanCruz
Photo by Comisión de Justicia y Paz, which has been accompanied by Peace Brigades International-Colombia since 1994.