Last Thursday, hundreds of thousands of Columbians throughout the country began a national strike. The protest is against proposed austerity measures that would specifically weaken the state-run pension program counted on by millions of workers, while at the same time offering a lucrative tax cut for the wealthy.
In addition, the proposals would cut funding for education and reduce the minimum wage for minors.
Many of those protesting expressed complaints over the failure of the government to finalize a 2016 peace negotiation with a powerful rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The agreed deal between the government and FARC had finally ended one of the longest civil wars in world history, lasting almost 50 years, which had killed over 200,000 Columbians and displaced millions from their homes.
The impetus behind the current strikes are the general population’s outrage at what they consider the corruption of President Ivan Duque’s government, lack of jobs, decent wages, and increasing poverty.
Columbia joined the global people’s revolution now raging in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Spain, Hong Kong, Iraq, Lebanon, Algeria, etc., with citizens no longer willing to accept repression, income inequality, poverty, rising crime, corruption, and declining living standards.
Tensions escalated on 5 November when information, hidden by the government, was revealed showing the military had killed nearly 20 children during an aerial raid on a FARC campsite. The Defense Minister, Guillermo Botero, was forced to resign, but now protesters are calling for the resignation of President Duque.
In the capital city of Bogota, over 100,000 trade union members, student organizations, and indigenous rights groups marched through the streets with hundreds of thousands more spreading out into cities and towns across the country.
As of Saturday, most of the activity was peaceful. Reports of some confrontations between protesters and police, however, have been reported in the city of Cali where a curfew has been imposed.
Tear gas was also used by police against protesters in Bogota’s Bolivar Plaza.
Preparing for more violence, the commander of the country’s armed forced ordered the entire military force to be on “maximum alert status.”
The national police raided the homes and offices of some of the leaders of the strike, and the following day President Duque made a television speech in which he stated that the government would guarantee order.
TREND FORECAST: Duque’s approval rating is 26 percent. Income inequality in Colombia is among the highest in the world. Since taking office 14 months ago, over 600,000 people have lost their jobs.
Therefore, as people lose everything and have nothing left to lose, as evidenced with protests erupting across the globe, we forecast civil unrest will dramatically escalate into civil war in Columbia, and the government will impose harsh military measures in attempts to quell the protesters.
As violence escalates and economic conditions deteriorate, more citizens will leave the country to seek a better life north of the border in the United States, thus exasperating the immigration crisis.