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  • Workers and students march in protest of President Duque's policies in Magdalena, Colombia, April 25, 2019.

    Workers and students march in protest of President Duque's policies in Magdalena, Colombia, April 25, 2019. | Photo: Twitter / @HumanaMag

Published 25 April 2019

Citizens are taking part in planned protests against President Duque's austerity measures, demonstrating in Bogota and 25 departments.

Workers, farmers, teachers, students and pensioners are staging a nationwide "Peace and Justice" strike to reject President Ivan Duque's neoliberal policies, supporting Indigenous rights and defending the peace process in Colombia being left behind by the head of state. 

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The Central Union of Workers (CUT) president, Diogenes Orjuela, said demonstrators in Bogota will march towards the Bolivar Square, where the Supreme Court is located. More than 300,000 teachers are expected to participate in the capital alone, says the president of the Colombian Federation of Education Workers (Fecode), Nelson Alarcon.

"We are going to mobilize in order to denounce the public education's difficult moment," said Alarcon and pointed out that the teachers are also supporting the Colombian Indigenous people's demonstrations.

The protesters are coming out against President Duque's National Development Plan (NDP) currently being debated in Colombia's Congress.  The 'Plan' includes major reductions in funding to the nation's pension and healthcare systems with the intent to cut the national fiscal debt of US$8 billion. 

At least 15 social organizations will take to the streets to reject the development plan and other legal reforms which aimed to "fulfill the International Monetary Fund's demands," the Confederation of Pensioners denounced.

Across 25 departments, citizens are also supporting the 'Minga Campesina,' a collective protest that Indigenous peoples and farmers have been staging since March to reject the over 400 social leader killed since the 2016 Peace Accords were signed. The activists have been taken out because they are demanding respect for their territories and sovereignty.

"Several social and political groups called for a nationwide strike in Colombia on Thursday. The main factors triggering the strike are discontent over policies, increasing violence and stigmatization of indigenous peoples."

In Medellin, the CUT march began at Desires Park early in the morning and is headed to the Alpujarra Square, the seat of the deparment's government. The Fecode and the Trade Union Association of Educators of Medellin (Asdem) will also converge upon the square.

"We expect between 7,000 and 8,000 people to take part in the march" in Medellin, CUT president Jaime Montoya told to El Tiempo newspaper.

The Colombian senior citizens are also attending today's demonstrations to reject policies which would reduce the benefits and scope of the social security system.

"We reject those pension-related reforms the government surreptitiously proposes under the National Development Plan ... (claims to) 'protect the old,'" spokeperson for the Democratic Confederation of Pensioners, John Jairo Diaz told the press and stressed that the population's poverty will increase if the president's cuts are passed.

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