Colombia govt to consider protesters' conditions for talks

·2-min read

The Colombian government said Sunday it would consider protesters' demands to "guarantee the right to protest" as a condition for negotiations after 19 days of bloody demonstrations against President Ivan Duque.

Triggered by a now-abandoned tax reform plan, the nationwide demonstrations have drawn thousands of pandemic-weary Colombians to the streets, venting their anger over poverty, yawning inequality and the government's harsh response to the protesters.

Spokespersons for the government and the most visible protester organization met in Bogota for the second time since the protests erupted on April 28.

At the end of the meeting, which lasted about four hours, presidential adviser Miguel Ceballos said he had received a document demanding "guarantees to exercise the right to protest" that "must be considered by the government."

"We understand and value the proposals of the strike committee in the sense of not sitting at the negotiation table until the points they raise are considered," Ceballos said.

Unions, university students and other social movements that are part of the so-called National Strike Committee called for fresh protests on Wednesday.

Talks between the two parties will continue on Monday at 2:00 pm (1900 GMT).

The document shared by student leaders who attended the meeting demands an end to the violence against protesters, that Duque condemn "explicitly and forcefully the abuses of the security forces" and recognize his "responsibility" for attacks during the protests.

The United Nations, the European Union and the Organization of American States (OAS), including the United States, have denounced the excessive use of force by law enforcement agencies during demonstrations.

Clashes between police and protesters have resulted in at least 42 deaths -- including one police officer -- and more than 1,500 injuries, according to official figures.

NGOs say the number is higher.