Negotiations begin between Colombia's government and the National Strike Committee
The meeting held this weekend between the Colombian Government and the Strike Committee ended with a document that demands guarantees for the peaceful protest.
Since the mass protests began last April 28 in Colombia, officials of the Executive have met for the second time with the members of the Strike Committee, labor centers and unions. President Iván Duque was not present at the dialogue table, where guarantees for peaceful social protest in the streets were discussed and an attempt was made to negotiate a solution to the social discontent that has kept the whole country protesting for almost 20 days.
The Strike Committee had as an important point on the agenda to discuss "the guarantees and prerequisites to stop state and para-state violence against those who are protesting." This would be the first step for the dialogues that seek to put an end to the situation in Colombia.
During the demonstrations there have been reports of disappearances, rapes by the police and the deaths of dozens of civilians. Although the figures vary, the NGO Temblores reports 47 deaths, 39 of which were allegedly at the hands of the security forces.
In addition, it has denounced that 16 women have been sexually abused by the forces of law and order, more than 1,000 people arbitrarily detained and reported more than 2,100 cases of police violence.
"The magnitude and seriousness of the physical, sexual and emotional violence unleashed against those of us who protest demands that no more people lose their lives, their physical integrity or their personal freedom in the midst of the protests, no negotiation is possible without the cessation of violence," added the Strike Committee.
For its part, the Ombudsman's Office assures that 41 civilians and one policeman have died during the demonstrations, however the Attorney General's Office says that 14 people have died and it is trying to corroborate another 9 deaths. President Duque, for his part, claims that more than 1,000 policemen have been injured during the marches.
The Colombian peace commissioner, Miguel Ceballos affirmed that the National Government has all the will to initiate a dialogue and negotiation table. Today, Monday, May 17, at 2:00 p.m., another meeting has been called with the Strike Committee. However, the presence of President Duque has not yet been confirmed.
The Strike Committee has already called for a new national demonstration for May 19.