The Stream

Can protesters in Colombia win change?

On Tuesday, July 6 at 19:30 GMT:
Protesters are still regularly taking to the streets of cities and towns across Colombia, more than two months after thousands of demonstrators began calling for widespread economic and social change.

On June 29, people in the capital Bogota again joined demonstrations against President Ivan Duque and the government, a day after similar action in the northern city of Medellin.

The wave of protests began on April 28 in response to government proposals to raise taxes. While the plans were dropped days later, activists have continued to urge the government to tackle growing poverty and inequality and provide better public services.

Protesters are also demanding major reforms to the police, which Human Rights Watch says has committed “egregious abuses” in a crackdown on the demonstrations. Yet in recent weeks the Duque government has deployed the military to support police against protests in several parts of the country. Human rights groups say that scores of people supporting the demonstrations have gone missing.

The national strike committee representing several unions, human rights groups and Indigenous movements is for now pausing weekly demonstrations, while it writes reform proposals that it plans to submit to the next session of Congress on July 20. A committee leader has warned of a second national strike and even bigger protests later this year if government and lawmakers do not consider their ideas. But Duque plans to introduce anti-riot and anti-vandalism legislation that human rights observers say is aimed at suffocating protest.

In this episode of The Stream we’ll look at the protests in Colombia and how the government is responding, and ask how activists can get positive change.

In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Christina Noriega, @c_mnoriega

Elizabeth Dickinson, @dickinsonbeth
Senior Colombia Analyst, International Crisis Group

Nathaly Espitia Díaz, @NoisRadio
Activist & Co-Founder, Nois Radio