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Published On: Wed, May 17th, 2017

Hundreds of thousands in Colombia hit the streets to protest

nsnbc : Large parts of Colombia were nearly brought to a standstill on Tuesday when about 330,000 protesters in cities throughout the country hit the streets in protests led by teachers and state employees.

Colombia_general strike_May 2017The eye of the storm of protests was Colombia’s northwestern Pacific Choco province where citizens since Wednesday last week have engaged in an all-out civic strike, claiming the national government has broken promises to alleviate rampant state neglect, poverty, violence and corruption.

About 70,000 went into the streets in Choco on Tuesday. Meanwhile the streets of the capital Bogota were also flooded with tens of thousands of protesters with marches organized by primary and secondary school teachers. Teachers who also have been on strike since Wednesday last week demand increased investment an education.

Tens of thousands took also into the streets in other cities including Cali and Medellin, and protests were also held in smaller towns and in some villages. The number of protesters reached about 330,000 and eve larger protests with the expected participation of an estimated 500,000 – 600,000 people may take place next week.

The INPEC’s union announced an indefinite strike beginning on Tuesday following the government’s failure to agree with requests made regarding the overcrowding of prisons and unregulated working hours.

Prison guards said they wanted “life insurance for all INPEC employees, rules regarding the working day, since we are the only public entity that does not have a regulated the working day, meaning we work up to 96 hours a week and the expansion of the prison workforce, among other points,” said Diana Salinas, president of STC labor union.

The accumulation of strikes and demands for public investment present the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos with a major fiscal dilemma because the government claims it has no money to fulfill the demands.

Colombia’s economic reserves have decreased significantly after the collapse of commodity prices, especially of the plummeting oil prices in 2014. The drop in the price of oil, once responsible for more than half of Colombia’s export has strained and drained the country’s economy.

The government has promised public investment, but in job-creating sectors like construction and road infrastructure in an effort to prevent a rise in unemployment. However, this has left the government with no budget to fulfill previous promises made with, for example, Choco and the teachers.

A/N – nsnbc 17.05.2017

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