Correspondent in Bogotá
The marches still do not stop in Colombia. But more voices have joined in calling for a prompt dialogue to be opened and the violence to cease regardless of the flank. The cost in lives has been very high and painful. According to a balance sheet on Wednesday, some 80,000 people took to the streets on that mostly peaceful day. The Defense Minister Diego Molano, provided figures on the impact, mainly, with vandalism against urban infrastructure, looting and attacks on police headquarters, and noted that there were 352 concentrations, 265 marches and 193 blockades in some 250 municipalities of the country.
At noon, the death toll was already counted by the dozens, 222 people with a record of physical violence and 831 protesters arrested, among other data provided by the NGO Temblor –an entity that asked the UN for a commission to monitor the figures it provides and which have previously been verified through triangulation–.
But the clashes have not been only in the streets. Yesterday, the fight of the day was between Molano and the senator and presidential candidate Gustavo Petro, leader of the Colombia Humana party and today of the coalition of left-wing parties Pacto Histórico. The exchange of trills, where Molano complains to Petro that one day “he sends the police to attack ‘and the next day he sends them to hug'”; and the leader of the opposition to the government responds: «Mister Minister of Defense, since I signed the peace agreement in 1989, never, listen well, I have never suggested that a single member of the public force be attacked. Instead, you allow unarmed civilians to be killed. You are the one who is outlawing the law.
Look for dialogue
The issue is not anecdotal because it is in this tension that the country is debated and the one that can keep the efforts of university rectors, unions and civil society stagnant to reduce the confrontation and seek an effective dialogue that addresses critical issues.
In the morning, the President Iván Duque summoned the High Courts, including the president of the Special Justice for Peace, Eduardo Cifuentes placeholder image, to deal with the crisis and exit routes, within the roadmap of government conversations with different levels and organizations of society. The Courts publicly condemned the violence, supported the national dialogue between all parties and stated that “the crimes that have been brought against any citizen or public servant within the framework of the protest must be investigated, prioritized and punished with the competent authorities,” as It was affirmed by the president of the Constitutional Court, Antonio Lizcano.
For yesterday afternoon it was expected a joint communiqué between the center forces, center left and left, such as the Coalition for Hope, Defend Peace, the Patriotic Pact and the Unemployment Committee, in which, in addition to defending democratic principles, they would request a negotiation with the Unemployment Committee, and would reject a declaration of internal commotion, as has been requested by some sectors and seen as a constitutional option by the government, as well as to cease military assistance to the police in some cities of the country.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism