Two-day strike underway in Colombia, mobility in Bogotá impacted

Colombia’s trade union organizations have called for a two-day nationwide strike starting April 25, and in which tens of thousands are taking to the streets in protest of the economic policies of Iván Duque’s government.

An estimated one million are expected to march in the country’s largest cities on Thursday, including students and members of indigenous groups. The largest protest is underway in the capital Bogotá and expected to reach the Plaza de Bolívar in the afternoon.

The mass mobilization will affect most major roads in Bogotá, including the Ave. El Dorado (Calle 26) that connects the airport with the rest of the city. The Avenida Chile (Calle 72) will be affected by a march organized by the students enrolled in the National Pedagogical University and Colegio Mayor de Cundinamarca.

The country’s largest union, Central Union of Workers (CUT) will march from Parque Nacional along the Carrera Séptima until they reach the city’s largest and most important square. Joining the two-day national strike is the Colombian Federation of Educators (Fecode) that represents some 300,000 teachers in district schools. Fecode and the government of Iván Duque are at odds over education reform and financing.

The grievance of Colombia’s trade unionists is directed at the Plan Nacional de Desarollo (National Development Plan), currently being debated in Congress.  The PND includes major changes to the country’s pension and healthcare plans for government workers, and proposes budget cutbacks in order to finance a fiscal debt of US$8 billion.

The mass protest also aims to pressure the government to protect the lives of social activists and human rights workers in the country, 600 of whom have been assassinated since the Havana peace accord was signed in 2016 between the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla.

Despite President Duque promising greater protection for civic leaders since taking office in August 2018, last year was one of the worst on record in terms of human rights violations with at least 120 assassinations. During January 2019, one social activist was being killed every three days in Colombia, according to the UK NGO Relief Web.

The nationwide strike on Thursday and Friday is expected to impact mobility in Bogotá, including the city’s articulated bus system TransMilenio, so give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination, especially if heading to the airport.

As of 11:00 am, here are where the protests are gathering:

Ave 26 with Cra 28 (CAD); Ave.Suba with Cra.96; Gobernación de Cundinamarca (Calle 26 with Cra 50); Planetario de Bogotá (Cra 7 with Calle 26); Parque Nacional (Cra 7 with Calle 39);