BOGOTA – Around 40 Colombian singers and bands joined their talents on Sunday for a series of musical performances in support of the social protests against the government of Ivan Duque with thousands filling the streets of Bogota under the slogan “A song for Colombia on the street.”
Under a brilliant sun, thousands turned out for more than six hours of rhythms and singing ranging from the Caribbean style of Adriana Lucia to the rock of Doctor Krapula and La Derecha at a lively festival that lasted until the late afternoon when a rainstorm dampened the festivities in the final stretch of the concert.
“We don’t want any presents, we just want what we’re due,” a combative Adriana Lucia declared at the start of her performance at the District Planetarium, making herself the on-stage voice most critical of the government.
The origin of the ongoing protests was a “national strike” called by the country’s main unions on Nov. 21 to demand changes in Duque’s economic and social policies and, although the strike did not paralyze the country, it was the spark that set off the popular movement that has ballooned since then into a series of street marches and sit-ins in the capital and other cities.
The trucks that served as mobile stages for the performances were adorned with Colombian flags and signs showing support for the demands of unions and other organizations, including opposition to the government’s tax, labor and social security reforms.
As in recent weeks, the Park of the Hippies in Bogota’s Chapinero neighborhood, once again was the focal point for the protest music and became crammed with thousands of people who danced to the psychedelic rock of Super Litio, the lyrics of Doctor Krapula and Los Petit Fellas.
Amid the musical catharsis, a crowd of women sang the feminist anthem that in recent weeks has gone viral – “Un violador en mi camino” (A rapist on my road) – showing that the protests have incorporated a number of demands ranging from union desires to gender equality and even the effective implementation of the peace treaty with the FARC guerrillas and the protection of indigenous peoples.
Many young people also turned out, as they do every Sunday, for physical activities like running, biking and hiking.
Andres Urrego, a student riding his bike and wearing a helmet, told EFE that he already owes 25 million pesos (about $7,300) to Icetex, the government entity that finances university studies, despite the fact that he has not yet graduated.
He said he wanted the government to devote more resources to education, given that – he asserted – it spends so much on defense and the military.
One of the most emotional moments of the day came when the band Bomba Estereo, nominated several times for Grammy Awards, performed a brand new song inspired by the protests, so new that the lead singer had to consult his cellphone to remember the lyrics.
“Colombia is awakening and is shouting to me about the hate that it can’t take any more” and “It’s up to us to write our story, it can be different, it can be better,” went the words.
Several opposition politicians also turned out for the march and musical performances, including Bogota Mayor-elect Claudia Lopez, who invited people via Twitter to get out on the streets because “change is here and now,” and others – like leftist Sen. Jorge Robledo – who uploaded onto the social networks images of the concert.
Sen. Gustavo Petro, who was defeated for the presidency by Duque in the last election, shared on Twitter a video of people on the street and criticized the president for not wanting “to listen to the people” who “are demanding the expansion (of the Strike Committee) with delegates from the popular assemblies.”
Also, some of the slogans and signs in evidence during the gathering said things like “Today I’m marching for Colombia ... for my country because there are no guarantees,” pointing to the wide-ranging nature of the movement where some are calling for real dialogue with the government, although so far that does not appear to be in the offing.