In Colombia, teachers held a 24-hour strike Wednesday to demand security guarantees and the fulfillment of an agreement signed between Colombia’s National Federation of Educators (Fecode) and the government of President Juan Manuel Santos.
Demonstrations in different cities, including Bogota, Cali, Medellin, and Cartagena began at 9 a.m. local time. According to the Fecode, the strike was organized to demand security for teachers who have been threatened in the context of a wave of murders against social leaders.
During an interview, Carlos Rivas, president of Fecode, explained they were striking “because this year we have seven murdered teachers. In the past 20 years, we have 1,200 teachers murdered. Teachers have a right to life, and as social subjects, and as such we are defenders of peace and democracy.”
Despite the peace agreement signed between the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government in 2016, violence in Colombia has not ceased as different armed actors seek to gain control over former FARC territories.
The education minister Yaneth Giha said “there are no justified reasons to call for this 24-hour strike, in the third half of the year. As Fecode knows there is a follow-up commission since the agreements were signed and it is that instance where they should discuss their differences or concerns, not altering classes for children in Colombia.”
In June 2017, after a 37-day strike, the government and teachers signed a 24-point agreement. According to the federation, only eight of the commitments have been met. The others, including an increase in the education budget, elimination of pay gaps, and improvements in their health services and a national fund for social services remain pending.
Colombia’s Education Freedom Movement presented a lawsuit against the federation, which urges the justice system to declare the strike illegal.
Fecode criticized this measure, and general criticism affirming “we teach to change the country, to improve the living conditions of out students. But some want to turn education into a felony and protest into a crime. We are proud of being #TeachersForLife”