CUPE expresses solidarity with national strike protests in Colombia against tax on drinking water, health care reform

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On May 5, the Canadian Union of Public Employees tweeted: “Solidarity with workers, human rights defenders & others on strike in Colombia. CUPE calls on the Cdn gov’t to condemn the Duque regime’s violence & rights violations.”

Agence France-Presse has reported: “Tens of thousands of Colombians have taken to the streets in demonstrations against a proposed tax reform but have since morphed into broader protest against the government of President Ivan Duque.”

The mobilization began on April 28 against a $6.4 billion “tax reform” package that would have disproportionately impacted the poor.

That tax package could have imposed a 19 per cent tax on drinking water for some, while the health reforms raised concerns given the investment of foreign capital in the health sector has increased considerably in recent years.

The BBC has reported that the unions that called for the national strike have stated “the withdrawal of the tax reform was not enough and that it also wants improvements to Colombia’s pension, health and education systems.”

Yesterday, the Bogota-based organization Temblores reported that after nine days of national strike protests there were 1,728 documented cases of police violence against the protests and 37 homicides committed by the police.

In October 2019, CUPE National President Mark Hancock participated in a CUPE delegation to Colombia and met with NOMADESC and SINTRACUAVALLE – the union representing workers at Colombia’s only public water provider.

You can read his reflections on that delegation here.

PBI-Colombia has provided protective accompanied to NOMADESC since 2011 and its president Berenice Celeita since 1999.

As can be seen in this photo-journal, PBI-Colombia has been accompanying human rights defenders throughout this national strike.


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