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  • Student protesters criticize Colombia's anti-riot police during Thursday's national march.

    Student protesters criticize Colombia's anti-riot police during Thursday's national march. | Photo: EFE

Published 10 November 2018
Opinion

Two national marches were announced for November as three university students go missing according to Colombian human rights groups.

Colombia's Popular Network for Human Rights denounced Friday the "disproportionate use of force" by Colombia's Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron (ESMAD) and revealed that three students from Bogota's National University are missing after confrontations with Colombian security forces.  

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Colombia: Student, Union March Ends With Police Repression

As the toll of police violence in the context of national protests becomes clearer, Colombia's Central Workers' Union (CUT) and the student movement announced Friday they will march again on Nov. 15 and 28. They also said they will possibly organize a national strike to reject President Ivan Duque's policies and unwillingness to negotiate. 

"The inconvenience of the tax reform and the intransigence of the national government to expand the budget for public education and accept the dialogue with the students, are the main reasons for mobilization that today bring together important sectors of society," the CUT argued in an official statement.

Furthermore, in response to the suppression of Thursday's protests by members of the ESMAD, Diogenes Orjuela, president of the CUT, demanded respect to the right to protest and condemned acts of violence against demonstrators.  

The three students reportedly disappeared are Diego Barrera, Sebastian Melgarejo, and Juan Pablo Tovar, El Espectador reported.

According to the CUT, they will evaluate the government's response to the two scheduled mobilizations to decide whether or not to paralyze the country. 

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.  

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