Four people were killed in Colombia on Friday as tens of thousands of protesters marked a months of demonstrations across the country, while talks between the government and national strike committee stalled.
In Cali, which became the epicenter of national protests, Mayor Jorge Ospina confirmed three of the dead. Local media reported the fourth death that occurred on the road between Cali and Candelaria town.
Demonstrations in other areas were mostly peaceful, although clashes between police and protesters were reported in some areas, such as the municipality of Madrid, near Bogota.
“There needs to be a dialogue between the callers for the strike, the national government, and society as a whole. Without conversations, the influx of violence and sadness will continue, more people could die,” as Ospina.
Two people in Cali were killed when an agent of the investigative unit fired at civilians, before being killed, Attorney General Francisco Barbosa said in a television message. The agent was not on duty at the time, Barbosa said.
Violence has marked demonstrations over the past four weeks.
So far the government has confirmed 17 civilian deaths directly connected to the protests, while human rights groups claim dozens more civilians have been killed by security forces. Two police officers were also reported killed in the protests.
The protests begins last month after the right -wing President of Colombia Ivan DuqueThe government has introduced a tax reform that critics say will not equally harm the working class and the middle class, which has already been hit by the COVID-19 disease.
Amid singing and music during demonstrations in the capital Bogota, protesters told the Reuters agency that they would continue to march even if there was a month -long demonstration.
Since the tax reform withdrawal at the start of the month, protesters ’demands have been expanded to include basic income, opportunities for young people and an end to police brutality.
“As long as the government doesn’t listen to us, we have to stay on the streets,” Alejandro Franco, 23. On graduation, he told Reuters he was marching for better education and health, among other reasons. .
“If the people don’t have peace, neither does the government,” he added.
Some say the long-running protests put them under financial pressure.
“I have to close my store whenever there are protests,” Laudice Ramirez, 62, said in the southern part of the city. “I’m bankrupt, but the youth don’t have any options for the chances.”
Although the government and protest leaders reached a “pre-agreement” for ending the demonstrations this week, the organizers of the strike on Thursday said the government had not signed the agreement and accused it of stalling.
“We have reached an agreement, all that is missing is the president’s signature to start negotiations,” Francisco Maltes, head of the Central Union of Workers (CUT), said on Friday, accusing the government of delaying talks.
The government said they had not signed the agreement because some protest leaders would not condemn the street blockades, calling the issue non -negotiable, and added that talks would continue on Sunday.
Colombia’s finance ministry estimates that the protests and roadblocks cost the country $ 2.68bn, with roadblocks leading to shortages of food and other supplies, raising prices, and destroying operations at the country’s main port, as well as hundreds of companies.