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  • Teacher's nationwide strike in Colombia, Sep. 12, 2019.

    Teacher's nationwide strike in Colombia, Sep. 12, 2019. | Photo: Twitter / @ituc

Published 12 September 2019

Teachers say they aim to expand the social struggle amid the Colombian humanitarian crisis and state violence.

The Colombian Federation of Education Workers (Fecode) began Thursday a 24-hour national strike to protest against insecurity, violence and threats affecting social leaders and teachers.

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"From different parts of the country, union leaders, educators and students demand the defense of the life and physical integrity of social leaders and ratify their support for the peace process," Fecode president Nelson Alarcon said and added that his organization rejects "all forms of violence wherever they come from."

On Sept. 3, Fecode teachers said they had been threatened by the "Black Hawks", a paramilitary group linked to the Colombian far-right, which issued a statement stating that “time has arrived to wipe away this country from the so-called 'union and social leaders', all of whom are guerrillas' employees.”

As a result of these threats, the Colombian teachers suspended their "Caravan in defense of life", a peaceful event which was expected to tour the Cauca Valley for three days.​​​​​​​

The Fecode demanded that President Ivan Duque take immediate and effective measures to defend not only teachers and students but also social and union leaders.

Teachers are insisting that the government comply with the agreements signed at the negotiating table on May 15, one of which is the recognition of educational institutions as "Peace Territories."

“Fecode's gesture has a deep pedagogical meaning. It shows that the indignation feeling, which is prompted by systematic crimes attacking the most vulnerable while the State remains indolent, can actively mobilize citizens to participate in demonstrations to save lives," local media Semanario Voz said reporting on the teachers' solidarity with social leaders. 

"It also shows that there are trade unions capable of overcoming their narrow corporate spirit so as to expand the horizons of social struggle amid situations of humanitarian crisis and state violence.”​​​​​​​

Teachers insist on the National Government to comply with the agreements signed at the negotiating table on May 15, one of which is the recognition of educational institutions as "Peace Territories".

Fecode explained that unemployment is taking place through mobilizations in all municipalities and departments of the country. Massive marches are planned in Bogota, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cali and Medellín.

In the Colombian capital, the strike began at 9:00 a.m. with demonstrations made by teachers and students from the three most important institutions, namely, Manuela Beltran College, National Learning Service and Nicolas Esguerra College. These three marches will converge in the Bolivar Square at downtown.

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