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  • 14,000 people marched in Bogota to demand higher budgets for public universities. 30,000 nationwide.

    14,000 people marched in Bogota to demand higher budgets for public universities. 30,000 nationwide. | Photo: EFE

Published 16 November 2018 (22 hours 20 minutes ago)

91 Colombian legislators urged President Duque to restart dialogue with students and professors protesting for a higher budget. 

Colombian legislators, 34 senators and 57 members of the house of representatives, sent Colombian President Ivan Duque a letter Thursday urging him to resume dialogue with students after a massive protest joined by workers' unions and Indigenous groups was met with violent repression by the Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron (Esmad). 

RELATED: 
Colombia Student Protests Continue, Police Repression Ramps Up

"Students and professors are willing to make a great effort to achieve a consensus that was not possible in first dialogues," legislators of different parties told Duque, urging him to restart talks. Earlier this month, students walked out of the negotiation table citing the government's unwillingness to increase the national budget for public universities and demanding the president's presence in the talks. 

"#Colombia After several massive marches that have started being violently repressed, 91 legislators signed a letter asking President @IvanDuque to seat and talk to the students."

Legislators also urged President Duque to solve the budget conflict, which keeps students mobilized throughout the country. Protesters in Colombia have not stopped rejecting the 2019 university budget, while the security forces repress the marchers.

At least six people were injured by police and eight were reportedly detained in Bogota. On Thursday several social media users denounced arbitrary detentions and disproportionate use of force.  

Lawmakers are also concerned about the effects of the university strike. "With the imminent risk that the academic semester will be lost in most institutions, a more serious matter for teachers, students and their families, as well as for the credibility and reputation of their Government," the letter highlights. 

Student protests began in early October to demand more resources for public universities. Colombia's public education system has a 3.2 billion pesos deficit just to continue operations, and 15 billion pesos deficit to maintain quality and infrastructure. The current 2019 budget is not enough to maintain quality, according to the students. 

Workers' unions and other sectors, including pensioners, have joined national protests after Duque presented a tax reform that would affect working-class families by extending the VAT to staple goods while giving a four percent tax cut for national and transnational companies.

The next national mobilization is scheduled for Nov. 28.


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