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No discussion of Colombia’s current situation would be complete without mention of the call for a national strike made by different organizations on March 17, following the end of the National Agrarian Summit in Bogota.
As announced by spokespeople of different peasant, indigenous and afro-descendant organizations last week at the end of the Summit, the day of mobilization in the context of a new national agrarian and popular strike will take place in the first week of May if the organizations don´t reach an agreement with Juan Manuel Santos´ administration. This time would have great repercussion since the national presidential elections for the 2014-2018 period will take place on May 25.
Real World Radio, through correspondent Danilo Urrea, interviewed Feliciano Valencia, member of the Cauca Indigenous Regional Council (CRIC) to know more about the decision to go on strike again, after the country was paralyzed in August 2013 for almost two months and showed the repression by the Santos administration through the Anti-Riot Division of the Police (ESMAD) and the National Army.
In the interview, Valencia said that “this decision (to call for a strike) is part of a convergence to claim our rights as Colombian people. It is a convergence of mobilizations, resistance, and demands we´ve been making for years”.
The indigenous leader believes that the imminent strike is a symbol of the unity around the defense of the territory, common resources, democracy, peace and dignified lives, all issues dealt with at the Summit in Bogota.
“It is a convergence of plans, statements, unfulfilled agreements, plans that go beyond merely economic claims”, added Valencia in our final interview as part of the coverage of the event.
In terms of the next steps, the Colombian popular movement established the need to go to the regions, the streets, the neighborhoods, to prepare for the day of mobilization.
The goals of the National Agrarian Summit stated the need to agree on a common plan to negotiate with national authorities. Feliciano said “we´ve gained the capacity to decide in a clear way what it is we want to agree on, these are not those huge plans of the past, where we would get lost in the negotiation itself. These are eight points that are related to structural issues”.
“We won´t stop until the government complies, whether it is days, weeks, months or years, we will be there”, said the indigenous leader.
Congress elections were held on March 9, where one of the main protagonists was the Centro Democratico party, led by former right-wing president Álvaro Uribe Vélez. The parliamentary dispute allowed to balance the national trend towards the upcoming presidential elections, where the main contenders seem to be the current president and the “uribista” candidate Oscar Iván Zuluaga.
The possibility of Zuluaga winning the elections has generated different opinions, contrary to the possibility to continue with the peace process that is advancing in Havana, Cuba, with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
“Este triunfo de Uruguay debe ser un llamado urgente a analizar, revisar, renegociar o anular cuando corresponda todos los tratados bilaterales de comercio y de protección de inversiones que ha suscrito el país, antes de exponernos a nuevas demandas en las que podemos correr con distinta suerte que en la recién finalizada”.
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