This 6 December 2019 video says about itself:
This photo shows Colombian students protesting, with a sign saying that the right-wing government is killing education.
Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:
Colombians have taken to the streets en masse out of dissatisfaction with the government policy of conservative president Iván Duque. Police estimate that 207,000 people were on the move throughout the country, in one of the biggest protests in the recent history of the South American country.
Here and there were small confrontations between riot police and demonstrators. For example, tear gas was used when protesters wanted to march to Bogotá airport.
Little support for president
President Duque only enjoys the support of a quarter of Colombians, research shows. …
Unemployment is 11 percent and 17.5 percent of young people are unemployed.
By Evan Blake:
National strike shakes Colombia’s right-wing government
22 November 2019
With the launching of a national strike Thursday, hundreds of thousands of Colombian workers joined the eruption of class struggle that has shaken Latin America over the past several months. Following the mass demonstrations and strikes in Chile, the eruption of social protest in Ecuador and the resistance of Bolivian workers and peasants to the US-backed right-wing military coup, Colombian workers have shut down the fourth largest economy in Latin America.
While exact crowd sizes are hard to determine, estimates have ranged from 200,000 to over 1,000,000 people participating nationwide. Over 100,000 marched in the rain through the capital of Bogotá, filling the streets and closing 130 Transmilenio bus stations. At least 20,000 marched in Cali, and tens of thousands more participated in over 100 cities and towns across Colombia. Solidarity protests were held in numerous cities internationally, including Paris, London, Buenos Aires, Munich, New York, Sydney, Madrid, Miami and San Francisco.
Dozens of organizations took part in the strike, primarily the various trade unions, indigenous rights groups and student organizations. In every major city, protesters blocked public transportation to varying degrees, shutting down large sections of transportation throughout the country.
Thousands of protesters filled Plaza Bolívar in Bogotá, the main square of the capital. Referencing the state violence unleashed against protesters in Chile, where hundreds have lost their eyes after being shot by rubber bullets, a large banner draped across a side of the square read, “How many eyes will it cost us to open theirs?”
Underscoring the significance of the strike, Oren Barack of Alliance Global Partners in New York, which holds Colombian sovereign and corporate debt, told Bloomberg, “I’m following it pretty closely. The government has something to be nervous about.”
While the protests remained overwhelmingly peaceful, minor clashes between protesters and units of the Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron (ESMAD) took place in some major cities during the day, leading to the arrest of ten protesters by mid-day. Altercations in Bogotá and the western city of Cali injured seven protesters … prompting the imposition of a 7pm curfew in Cali. As of this writing, some clashes have broken out between police and protesters defying the curfew.
Despite efforts by demonstrators to keep the protest peaceful, a confrontation took place in the afternoon between protesters and the ESMAD on Plaza Bolívar in Bogotá, prompting the militarized riot police to fire tear gas to disperse the crowd.
In the evening, thousands of people took to the streets in cacerolazos —banging pots and pans—in Medellín and Bogotá, protesting the police violence.
In the days leading up to the strike, the Colombian state mobilized its vast police and military apparatus, the second largest in the region after Brazil. The commander of the Colombian armed forces, General Luis Fernando Navarro, ordered the quartering of all of the country’s 293,200 soldiers beginning Monday and lasting through the national strike, commanding them to be on “maximum alert status.” 8,000 soldiers were deployed to Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena, Bucaramanga, Pereira and Pasto.
In addition, 10,000 local police were deployed in Bogotá and 7,000 in Medellín, Colombia’s second-largest city, with thousands more in other cities. President Iván Duque issued a decree enabling local authorities to impose curfews and ban the carrying of arms and consumption of alcohol.
In an effort to whip up xenophobia, the government deported 24 Venezuelan nationals, as well as Spanish and Chilean nationals, whom they accused of “affecting public order and national security.” In addition, Duque ordered the closing of Colombia’s borders from midnight Wednesday until 5:00am Friday.
Twenty-seven raids were conducted by the National Police in Bogotá on Tuesday morning, searching the offices and homes of leaders of organizations involved with the strike. In a nationally televised public address on Wednesday, Duque warned that his government “will guarantee order and defend you with all the tools the constitution grants us.”
The underlying objective impulse for the national strike is the deep economic inequality that pervades Colombian society. With three billionaires owning more wealth than the bottom ten percent of the population, Colombia ranks among the most unequal countries in Latin America, the most unequal region in the world. Unemployment has risen under the Duque administration, as more than 600,000 people lost their jobs last year alone.
The right-wing policies of the Duque administration, which has been a dutiful servant to the Colombian bourgeoisie and foreign capital since coming to power in August 2018, have exacerbated this situation and created immense hostility to the existing political setup. The most recent opinion polls before the strike showed Duque’s approval ratings at a dismal 26 percent.
Duque has violated nearly every statute of the fraudulent 2016 peace accords negotiated with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla movement and has branded anyone who supports the peace accords as a guerrilla sympathizer. Duque has waged this campaign in alliance with his mentor, former president Álvaro Uribe, who during his reign from 2002-2010 vastly expanded the military and relied upon paramilitary death squads to wage war against FARC.
Under Duque, hundreds of innocent civilians, and in particular indigenous people, have been murdered. In October alone, five indigenous leaders were killed in Cauca, while more than 700 indigenous leaders and community organizers have been killed in Colombia since 2016.
The repeated treaty violations led a section of the FARC to resume the bloody, decades-long civil war with the government at the end of August. Since it began in 1964, the Colombian conflict has led to the killing of over 177,000 civilians by both the military and the guerrilla fighters, and is the longest armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere.
In late September, student protests erupted in response to revelations of corruption within the District University administration involving the embezzlement of over COP$10,400 million (roughly US$3 million). When the ESMAD violently suppressed the protests, students began organizing weekly protests and marches throughout Colombia, repeatedly clashing with police.
Also in September, the Supreme Court began hearing witnesses in the trial of Uribe, who has been accused of fraud and bribery to cover up his family’s past crimes. With Uribe’s record largely destroyed by this testimony, his far-right Democratic Center (CD) party lost significant ground in local elections held on October 27.
First announced by the country’s main trade unions on October 4, the national strike was initially ignored by the corporate media. The protests first centered on opposition to government plans for an austerity package to undermine the state-run pension program Colpensiones, reduce the minimum wage for minors, decrease education spending and cut taxes for the rich.
A tipping point occurred on November 5, when it was revealed that the state had covered up the fact that an August 29 military bombing had killed at least eight children in Caquetá, which it claimed was a FARC stronghold, leading to the resignation of Colombian Defense Minister Guillermo Botero. The revelation that the Colombian military had committed yet another war crime against its own population prompted students and indigenous groups to join the call for a national strike, shifting the central demand to the ouster of Duque. Since then, reports have surfaced that up to 18 children were killed, more than double the government’s count, further fueling social tensions.
Colombian police attack massive protests against inequality and violence: here.
This 2013 video from North America is called Prothonotary Warbler Portrait.
Key locations for declining songbird
June 19, 2019
Many of North America’s migratory songbirds, which undertake awe-inspiring journeys twice a year, are declining at alarming rates. For conservation efforts to succeed, wildlife managers need to know where they go and what challenges they face during their annual migration to Latin America and back. For a new study published by The Condor: Ornithological Applications, researchers in six states assembled an unprecedented effort to track where Prothonotary Warblers that breed across the eastern U.S. go in winter — their “migratory connectivity” — and found that nearly the entire species depends on a relatively small area in Colombia threatened by deforestation and sociopolitical changes.
The Ohio State University’s Christopher Tonra and his colleagues coordinated the deployment of 149 geolocators, tiny devices that use the timing of dawn and dusk to estimate birds’ locations, on Prothonotary Warblers captured at sites across their breeding range. When the birds returned to their nesting sites the following year, the researchers were able to recover 34 devices that contained enough data for them to use. The geolocator data showed that regardless of where they bred, most of the warblers used the same two major Central American stopover sites during their migration and spent the winter in a relatively small area of northern Colombia. Additionally, many Prothonotary Warblers appeared to winter in inland areas, rather than in coastal mangrove habitat, which previous studies suggested they relied on most heavily.
These unexpected findings show that we may not understand the winter habitat needs of migratory songbirds as well as we thought. “The most surprising thing about the results was the overwhelming importance of Colombia to this species”, says Tonra. “We weren’t sure what to expect in terms of migratory connectivity, but we never expected that nearly every bird would use the same wintering region. This provided a clear conservation message and shows the power of geolocators in addressing gaps in our knowledge of migratory songbirds.” Colombia’s 50-year civil war accelerated deforestation in the region of the country where the warblers are concentrated, but the good news is that the convergence of birds in this single area means that conservation efforts targeted here could benefit breeding populations across North America.
Collecting data on birds across such a broad geographic area required close collaboration among the study’s thirteen coauthors. “This was very much a team effort, but it really started with Erik Johnson at Audubon Louisiana and Jared Wolfe with the Louisiana Bird Observatory,” says Tonra. “Erik founded and leads our Prothonotary Warbler Working Group, and he initiated the idea of deploying tags across their range. This was an extremely rewarding example of what you can accomplish through collaboration across the range of a species of concern. Everyone put in an enormous effort to gather data in their region, as well as contributing to the preparation of the paper.”
This 21 February 2019 video says about itself:
The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center’s Bird Friendly® coffee certification program aims to protect the most quality habitat from the threat of deforestation under the Bird Friendly seal. While this video was filmed in Colombia, Bird Friendly coffee farms can be found in 12 countries, with more than 4,600 participating coffee producers and more than 31,000 acres of protected land.
From the University of Delaware in the USA:
Birds bug out over coffee
Research on coffee farm habitats can help both fowl and farmers
March 27, 2019
Summary: New research has found that birds are as picky as coffee snobs when it comes to the trees they’ll migrate to … Migratory birds prefer foraging in native leguminous tree species over non-native and many other trees used on many coffee farms. The findings will help farmers choose trees that are best for both birds and business.
Coffee grown under a tree canopy is promoted as good habitat for birds, but recent University of Delaware research shows that some of these coffee farms may not be as friendly to our feathered friends as advertised.
Working with geographer Robert Rice of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC), University of Delaware Professor of Entomology Doug Tallamy and former UD graduate student Desirée Narango studied canopy tree preference of birds in shade-coffee farms with a particular focus on the implications for migratory birds that spend the winter in neotropical coffee farms. The research was published in the journal Biotropica.
Americans drink a lot of coffee — 64 percent of those aged 18 or over had at least one cup per day. That’s more than 150 million people in the U.S. and we all know one cup is a light day for many of our friends and family. This incredible demand for coffee means a lot of land in tropical zones is used to grow coffee beans in neotropical countries like Colombia and Nicaragua (where the UD study took place). Across central and South America, land converted to coffee agriculture occupies more than five million hectares of what was once prime overwintering natural habitat for migratory birds.
“Coffee grows right at the altitude that most of our neo-tropical migratory birds are spending the winter, particularly species that are losing one to two percent of their population every year like the cerulean warbler, Canada warbler and wood thrush“, said Tallamy. “A lot of this land has been leveled for coffee farms.”
In these and other countries in the tropical zone, forests are being cut down and turned into ecological deserts at an alarming rate. In traditional coffee agriculture, farmers clear-cut an area, remove all trees, and plant coffee plants in direct sun. In that case, the cultivated area provides almost no habitat for species of birds and insects. An alternative method for growing coffee is shade-grown coffee. The beans are grown in the shade of a mature tree canopy, which can also provide ecosystem services for the farmer (like shade) as well as habitat for local wildlife.
“Sun coffee produces more yield, but is not as sustainable”, said Narango, who now works for Advanced Science Research Center at City University of New York and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “Shade-coffee farms can produce just as high quality coffee beans as the direct sun approach and with added benefits for people and wildlife. First, it’s more comfortable for the workers. Second, the tree canopy protects the coffee. Third, it provides critical habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.”
Important to note, the insects that are attracted to these trees (and attract the birds to forage) do not pose a threat to coffee plants because they don’t feed on them.
Most coffee farms are still sun-grown. Fortunately, some farmers have gone to the shade-coffee route. They can earn a Bird Friendly coffee certification from the Smithsonian through a combination of foliage cover, tree height and biodiversity to provide quality habitat for birds and other wildlife. SMBC has advocated the use of shade trees in coffee systems since the 1990s, when Smithsonian staff discovered the habitat quality of such systems in southern Mexico. But, until now, no one asked an overlooked question. Which types of trees are bird friendly? Tallamy’s short answer: Non-native, exotic trees do little to nothing for birds and the insects they feast on, but certain native plants do wonders.
“The research all started here in Delaware when we realized how different plants are in producing food that drives bird populations,” said Tallamy, who conducted previous research with Narango and SMBC on non-native plants on bird populations.
The Smithsonian’s Rice added, “We had yet to understand which trees actually provide the better food resources in terms of insects for birds. Doug Tallamy has researched the association of tree species and the insects that make a living on them in the U.S. After talking with Doug, we thought that investigating that association within the shade-coffee systems would yield valuable insight as to which trees are the most beneficial for birds. Diverse, native trees act very much like local forest and do so with the economic advantage of having coffee produced beneath the shade canopy.”
The researchers quantified bird foraging activity on 22 tree species in two coffee farms. Specifically, they used timed observations to determine tree preferences, foraging bird abundance, foraging time and species richness of birds using each canopy tree species. Results indicate that birds do not forage randomly, and instead exhibit preferences for particular native tree species, especially legumes. The UD-Smithsonian findings indicate that coffee farms can serve as habitat refuge for wildlife, evidence that agroforestry land can be improved for birds of conservation concern by prioritizing canopy tree species that not only help birds, but also farm productivity.
“Farmers often select tree species that are beneficial to them and produce other products to sell in addition to coffee,” said Narango. “Some farms might prioritize walnut trees because they produce lumber or mango trees to produce fruit. There are so many choices. The goal of this project was to get more information to help farmers make that decision.”
In an effort to get dual crops out of the land, eucalyptus trees are another popular choice as they are a great source of lumber. But these trees are native to Australia, not central and South America. And these non-native trees don’t jive with local insects in these critical migratory bird zones.
“A very common scenario on these farms is to have eucalyptus, pine, mango and citrus,” Tallamy said. “All of these are non-native trees that support few insects — critical food for birds — or not nearly enough insects to make a difference. If you have a substantial amount of land with non-native plants, we’re not helping the birds at all. Biodiversity-wise, it’s a real scourge.”
So farms with these non-native trees would not get certified as bird friendly, but are still growing shade-coffee.
“The public reads shade-coffee and thinks it’s automatically bird friendly. That’s not necessarily the case,” said Tallamy. “But the growers don’t know. It’s not that they are trying to pull a fast one. They think insects are everywhere. They don’t know that the type of plant matters, so of course they use the plant that produces the highest amount of income. We can now correct that misinformation.”
Attracting birds could also serve as a boon to coffee production because birds attracted to the canopy trees can also protect the coffee crop by providing pest control. The plants that tended to be highly preferred, native legumes, also simultaneously provide nitrogen to the coffee crops increasing production.
“The preferred tree species for birds’ foraging tended to be native, which makes sense from an evolutionary point of view,” Rice said. “Insects have co-evolved with native trees over millennia, so our findings that birds preferred the native species, while not surprising, is clearly confirming. Our challenge for future studies will be to determine which trees are providing the greatest diversity and abundance of insects.”
SMBC’s long-term relationship with coffee producers throughout Latin America positioned the researchers well to help find the countries and regions within countries to conduct this research. With funding from the Disney Conservation Fund, Rice found local collaborators in Colombia and Nicaragua.
The study points strongly to the recently publicized topic of global insect decline.
“The decline is not new. What’s new is that the public is beginning to recognize it. People are writing about it. They write about climate change, pesticides, and habitat loss, but they aren’t being specific enough,” Tallamy said. “The fact that humans are taking away the plants that allow insects to thrive and replacing them with plants that do not is something that has not been mentioned in any articles. Habitat is not just a location to live; it’s the food that you eat. Insects need particular plants. Taking those plants away is, in my opinion, a major cause of insect decline, which is what we are going to study next.”
Undergraduate research opportunity
Wildlife ecology and conservation major Kerry Snyder, who graduated in 2015, is also a co-author on the research paper. As a UD junior, she began working on undergraduate research with Tallamy and formed her honors thesis around the topic.
“Research gave me an opportunity to travel abroad and learn how environmental problems affect farmers in Central America. In addition to the technical experience the work gave me, set me up well for my assignment in the Peace Corps,” said Snyder, who studied for two summer sessions under Tallamy and works for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. “Doing research allowed me to connect what I was learning in the classroom with real environmental conservation issues and allowed me to learn about the importance of coffee certification programs. It would have been impossible to take a class that would have taught me everything I learned through this experience.”
This 2015 video says about itself:
Today we are going to be sharing the top 10 fascinating spiders recently discovered. From the tiniest spider in the world to decoy building spiders.
The List: “10 Fascinating Spiders Recently Discovered” – Darwins Bark Spider – Decoy Building Spider – Indian Tiger Spider – Mongolia Spider – Moroccan Flic-Flac Spider – Mysmena wawuensis – Paratropis tuxtlensis – Skeletorus – Albino Trapdoor Spider – Trogloraptor
As uniform as cloned soldiers, new spiders were named after the Stormtroopers in Star Wars
The new species are amongst the very first bald-legged spiders recorded in Colombia
March 14, 2019
Despite being widely distributed across north and central South America, bald-legged spiders had never been confirmed in Colombia until the recent study by the team of Drs Carlos Perafan and Fernando Perez-Miles (Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay) and William Galvis (Universidad Nacional de Colombia). Published in the open-access journal ZooKeys, their research paper describes a total of six previously unknown species inhabiting the country.
Four of the novel spiders were unable to fit into any already existing genus, so the scientists had to create a brand new one for them, which they called Stormtropis in reference to the Star Wars‘ clone trooper army known as Stormtroopers.
Considered to be amongst the most enigmatic in the group of mygalomorphs, the bald-legged spiders are a family of only 11 very similarly looking, small- to medium-sized species, whose placement in the Tree of Life has long been a matter of debate. In fact, it is due to their almost identical appearance and ability for camouflage that became the reason for the new bald-legged spider genus to be compared to the fictional clone troopers.
One of the most striking qualities of the bald-legged spiders (family Paratropididae) is their ability to adhere soil particles to their cuticle, which allows them to be camouflaged by the environment.
“The stormtroopers are the soldiers of the main ground force of the Galactic Empire. These soldiers are very similar to each other, with some capacity for camouflage, but with unskillful movements, like this new group of spiders,” explain the researchers.
“We wanted to make a play on words with the name of the known genus, Paratropis, and of course, we also wanted to pay tribute to one of the greatest sagas of all time,” they add.
One of the new ‘stormtrooper’ species (Stormtropis muisca) is also the highest altitudinal record for the family. It was recorded from an elevation of at least 3,400 m in the central Andes. However, the authors note that they have evidence of species living above 4,000 m. These results are to be published in future papers.
In the course of their fieldwork, the researchers also confirmed previous assumptions that the bald-legged spiders are well adapted to running across the ground’s surface. The spiders were seen to stick soil particles to their scaly backs as a means of camouflage against predators. More interestingly, however, the team records several cases of various bald-legged species burrowing into ravine walls or soil — a type of behaviour that had not been reported until then. Their suggestion is that it might be a secondary adaptation, so that the spiders could exploit additional habitats.
In conclusion, not only did the bald-legged spiders turn out to be present in Colombia, but they also seem to be pretty abundant there. Following the present study, three genera are currently known from the country (Anisaspis, Paratropis and Stormtropis).
This 8 February 2019 video says about itself:
The Birders, a documentary film on Colombian bird diversity and birdwatching presented by ProColombia, with support of FONTUR and directed by Gregg Bleakney.
The film highlights Colombian local birdwatching guide, Diego Calderon-Franco and National Geographic photographer / videographer Keith Ladzinski as they travel through one of the most diverse bird regions in the world to capture new and rare birds that have never been filmed before.
The Birders also takes people through the Colombian landscape, highlighting several of its’ top locations, culture, birds and music. As well as: Los Flamencos Fauna and Flora Sanctuary, in the Guajira Peninsula. El Dorado Bird Reserve, in the Santa Marta Mountains. Minca and surroundings, in the Santa Marta Mountains. Tayrona National Natural Park and El Chamicero del Perija Bird Reserve, in the Perija Mountains.
The films aims to change the perception of Colombia through showcasing the diversity of birds who live there.
“Birdwatching in Colombia is a real adventure. These guides and biologists are always finding new things”, says director Gregg Bleakney. Diego Calderón agrees, “Being a bird guide in Colombia is absolutely crazy, we are basically living the Victorian times of exploration.
Along with the unique birds and exquisite landscape, The Birders incorporates an original score from local musicians inspired by the bird songs found in the film.
Mucho Indio – Teto Ocampo
Teto Ocampo has spent the past 10 years learning to play the Arhuaco people’s ancestral songs. Though his band, Mucho Indio, Teto takes listeners on a cosmic journey through space and time by translating Colombia’s most ancestral melody, the song of the hummingbird, to a modern format. He composed the melody with a rare charu flute, an instrument that only a handful of people on planet have the knowledge to play.
Song name: Kumuchikayu
Sidestepper English musician Richard Blair is most well known as the founding member of Sidestepper, a pioneering Colombian band that has paved the way for a modern generation of Colombian artists who have successfully gone global through mixing local and foreign musical concepts.
Richard’s meditative song was inspired by “mixed migrant flocks”, a phenomenon where foreign birds migrate to Colombia’s Caribbean region to live, travel and sing with local groups of birds.
Song name: To Close Your Eyes
Ghetto Kumbé Together with the team of the documentary, Edgardo Garcés travelled to his birthplace of La Guajira to record the song of the Vermilion Cardinal. Edgardo tattooed the bird on his arm to ground himself after the death of his parents. He had never seen the bird in the wild before. The story of this eye-catching bird’s connection to indigenous Wayúu culture is the inspiration for this modern Afro-Colombian electronic song.
Song name: Soy Guajira
Frente Cumbiero Using Colombian Cumbia as its base, Mario Galeano and his band Frente Cumbiero composed a modern take on the classic USA surf songs of the 1960s, but with a birder’s soul. The song draws inspiration from the endemic Santa Marta Parakeet. These social birds
live in flocks on a massive ridgeline overlooking the Caribbean Sea and Magdalena River Valley, the birthplace of Cumbia music.
Song name: Parakeet Ridge
El Leopardo With his band El Leopardo, Daniel Broderick (aka Dani Boom) composed a thumping electronic club song that mirrors the Manakin bird’s slow build-up to a frenetic courtship display. The mechanical clapping sound of the White-bearded Manakin’s wings, recorded by the documentary team in Tayrona National Park, is the foundation of Dani’s composition. The courtship call of the Lance-tailed Manakin provided a secondary melody.
Song name: Manakin Boom
From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA, March 2019:
The Birders is a documentary about the delights of bird watching in northern Colombia, the country that boasts more bird species than any other place in the world. Watch it for free, and then enter to win an all-expense-paid, 4-day trip to the Santa Marta region of the country. Runners-up win binoculars, boots, and more. Watch the movie and enter by March 28.
This video says about itself:
25 August 2016
From daily News Line in Britain:
Friday, 19 May 2017
500,000 WORKERS TAKE STRIKE ACTION & MARCH IN COLOMBIA
AN ESCALATING strike sweeping through Colombia, led by teachers and other state employees, saw at least half a million workers striking and marching on Monday and Tuesday this week.
Citizens in the Pacific Choco province have engaged in an all-out civic strike since Wednesday last week, against the national government’s broken promise to alleviate rampant state neglect, poverty, violence and corruption.
An estimated 70,000 workers marched in Choco on Tuesday, while the capital, Bogota, has filled up with tens of thousands of striking primary and secondary school teachers. The teachers have been on strike since last week to demand more pay and an increased investment in education.
In other major cities, teachers also massively took to the streets, causing a partial shut-down of traffic, not just in Bogota, but also in Medellin and Cali. As many as 330,000 teachers have taken to the streets throughout Colombia, in an accumulation of strikes.
Furthermore, workers from various other state entities, such as prison authority INPEC, Colombia’s tax agency DIAN and the national judicial workers union ASONAL, are also striking and marching in Bogota. More than half a million people demonstrated on Monday, demanding wage and work condition improvements.
The president of Colombia’s largest union, CUT, Luis Alejandro Pedraza, told Caracol Radio on Monday: ‘The general unemployment of Colombian teachers and state workers is due to the failure of the Government to invest in each of these sectors… We believe that tomorrow will paralyse some 500,000 to 600,000 people. Delegations from all over the country will come to the capital,’ Pedraza said on Monday.
INPEC’s union announced an indefinite strike beginning on Tuesday following the government’s failure to agree with requests made regarding the overcrowding of prisons and unregulated working hours. The prison guards said they wanted ‘life insurance for all INPEC employees, rules regarding the working day, since we are the only public entity that does not have a regulated working day, meaning we work up to 96 hours a week and the expansion of the prison workforce, among other points,’ said Diana Salinas, president of STC labor union.|
The accumulation of strikes and demands for public investment present the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos with a major fiscal dilemma, as the government’s claims it has no money are not just negotiation tactics. Colombia’s economic reserves have ‘vaporised’ after the collapse of commodity prices in 2014.
The drop in the price of oil, once responsible for more than half of Colombia’s export, has made serious cuts in government revenue. The government has promised public investment, but in job-creating sectors like construction and road infrastructure in an effort to prevent a rise in unemployment.
However, this has left the government with no budget to fulfill previous promises made with, for example, Choco and the teachers. After days of strikes, the stand-off between the government and education unions over funding remains unresolved. The education system in Colombia has been subject to several budget cuts since 2016, making the provision of quality education impossible, according to FECODE, an affiliate of Education International (EI).
In a press release, FECODE declared that educators are supporting the strike in huge numbers in response to the cuts in the financing of education. FECODE also says that parents and the school communities are taking part by the thousands in the protest actions.
The cuts in funding have damaged and will continue to worsen the teaching and learning conditions in schools as immediate consequences, the union warns. Infrastructure and teachers’ salaries, in particular, will suffer from the measures, it says. The nationwide strike has received the support of the union’s regional heads.
In a joint letter, they underline the need for adequate funding to ensure access to quality education for all. They also highlight the fact that, without a sound education system, the promising peace process that will help the country recover after 50 years of civil war might be at risk.
• UNI Global Union has strongly condemned a death threat made against Eric Amador Toro, the National Treasurer of the Union of Colombian Health Workers, SINTRASALUDCOL (UNICARE affiliate) in Colombia.
Amador received the death threat in a letter which said the union leader ‘had been targeted as a military objective for his “condemnations” expressed as a member of the SINTRASALUDCOL Union’. The letter demanded Amador stop work and leave his city if he wanted to avoid endangering his life and that of his family.
The letter further threatened that ‘there will be no second communication’. It is the duty of the Colombian government to protect all its citizens and to ensure that those persons who are responsible for making such unacceptable threats and who perpetrate acts of violence against the trade union movement are brought to justice.
UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings has immediately intervened by writing to President Santos of Colombia and calling on him to do everything in his power to stop this attack on yet another union leader. He stated: ‘When I met with President Santos in Davos in January, I congratulated him on the progress of the peace process.
‘I also reminded him of his responsibility to stop attacks on unions leaders who have long been the targets of those who seek to prevent freedom of speech and freedom of association in Colombia. 3,700 union members among 222,000 victims of the fifty year war paid the ultimate price. Eric Amador Toro must not become another statistic and this violence must not continue. President Santos must show that Colombia will not tolerate such threats and attacks in the this new era of “peace”. Our message is clear – this must stop now.’
‘In view of this alarming situation, UNI Global Union, and the entire international community demand that the safety of Amador and his family be respected and safeguarded. We make this appeal in the name of UNI Global Union, an international trade union federation that represents workers in the services sector with more than 20 million members and 900 affiliated unions.’
Social activists are being murdered with impunity across Colombia. Despite the peace agreement between the government and the Farc, assassination of left social leaders in Colombia has steadily increased — reaching over 100 this year alone, writes MICHAEL MIDDLETON.
Thursday, 1 November 2018: 123 COLOMBIAN ‘SOCIAL LEADERS’ KILLED BETWEEN JAN 1 AND JULY 4: here.
The Colombian defense minister, Guillermo Botero resigned after the release of a report indicating eight children were killed in a bombing in the southern department of Caquetá, whose execution and cover-up implicate President Iván Duque as well as the Colombian military and its main ally and sponsor, the Pentagon: here.