BOGOTA – With drummers, circus acts and Carnival rhythms, demonstrators gathered once again in Bogota for the second “national strike” called in less than a week to protest the social and economic policy of Colombian President Ivan Duque.
Seventh Avenue, one of the capital’s main thoroughfares, was the site where thousands of people congregated amid a festive atmosphere to express their disagreement with what they call the “big package” of measures the government wants to implement.
The march was headed by a group of young people, all dressed in black with blue and yellow handkerchiefs around their necks, who – beating drums and dancing – moved along the street to a “batucada” or samba-like beat.
The crowd, waving Colombian and LGBTI flags, danced to the music, chanting the regular student slogans these days including “Resistance, resistance.”
“The united people will never be defeated,” others in the procession chanted, amid signs remembering Dilan Cruz, the 18-year-old who died on Monday after suffering a serious head wound on the weekend when a police stun grenade detonated beside him.
“I demand that the government stop the repression of the protests. ... The main thing to demand is the disbanding of the Esmad (riot control police), which is a criminal institution that doesn’t keep anyone safe in the protests but rather attacks the demonstrators,” student Jhonny Martinez, carrying a Chilean flag, told EFE.
Other demonstrators carries signs reading “The Chilean people taught me to say ‘Until dignity becomes the norm’” and “Let’s not be governed by fear,” and more.
Martinez said that the demonstrations in Colombia are “the product of an international movement, a Latin American movement and the failures of capitalism as a system that should ensure a dignified life for people.”
Large groups of protesters also gathered at other sites around Bogota such as 80th Street, where a man carried a cross on his back with signs hanging from it reading “No more corrupt government,” “For dignified jobs” and “For all the Colombian peasants.”
“The cross weighs about 25 kilos (55 pounds) ... and I’m protesting against the injustice of the Colombian government,” Eduard Vanegas – the crossbearer – told EFE.
At midday, demonstrators began to drift into central Bolivar Square where it is expected that during the afternoon the bulk of the protesters will gather.
The protests started with a national strike called by union leaders last Thursday to demand changes in the government’s social and economic policy, but it morphed into a popular movement that is attracting more support each day amid massive street demonstrations.