With no agreement between Colombia’s government and protest leaders, demonstrations are likely to continue as major cities brace for a third peak in Covid-19 cases.
Since April 28, thousands have protested throughout the country against the government. The violence has resulted in the death of 26 people, including one police officer, according to government figures. Rights groups say the death toll is higher; Human Rights Watch says it has credible reports of 38 deaths.
The National Strike Committee, that includes major unions, and President Iván Duque held their first meeting Monday without coming to an agreement. Protests leaders said the government did not show empathy for their demands, while the government said the meeting was only exploratory and said it aims to reach agreements.
What began as demonstrations over proposed tax increases, that have since been scrapped, has morphed into broader demands for the government to address poverty and inequality. The protests have grown as reports of police violence, deaths, and disappearances have emerged.
The city of Cali has emerged as an epicenter of protests. Over a dozen people were injured during demonstrations over the weekend. Indigenous groups protesting were attacked by armed civilians who were demanding an end to blockades of major highways that have caused shortages in food and gasoline. resulted in the disruption of food to the city. Duque made a quick visit to the city Monday.
Authorities in Cali said demonstrations are likely to extend their current peak in Covid-19 cases.
In Bogotá, the country’s capital, officials are predicting a “hospital collapse” and don’t expect a decrease in infections as they had previously reported.