The popular demonstration in support of the social reforms negotiated by the Colombian government in the country’s legislature is continuing. September 27th was the scheduled date for a new show of social support for the government, following the call of President Petro and the Minister of Labor, Gloria Ines Ramirez, particularly for labor reform, one of the reforms seeking the necessary support for congressional approval in its second attempt.
Under the slogan “For peace, for life, for social justice,” the march will also be a national show of solidarity with the Cauca department and the Pacific region of the country. These areas have been hit by violence and recent criminal acts that have affected the civilian population.
Representatives of the indigenous community arrived in the capital city on September 25th.In addition to participating in the march in support of the government, they will hold the National Indigenous Congress in Bogotá on September 28th and 29th, where they will meet with the President of the Republic.
Teachers, unions, and social organizations
In addition to the indigenous presence, the organizers have confirmed the support and attendance of representatives from the education sector, unions, and other social organizations. The Central Unitary Workers’ Central (CUT), Colombia’s largest union, has already confirmed its attendance, even before President Petro’s call during a meeting with the Minister of Labor, Gloria Ramírez.
The Minister of the Interior, Luis Fernando Velasco, has defended the right to protest and denied rumors circulating on social media claiming that his ministry offers free internet access to representatives of the veredas of the Local Action Boards who join the demonstration.
In this regard, Velasco has stated that his ministry, “taking into account the guarantees for social protest and peaceful mobilization provided for in the 1991 Political Constitution, will provide support within the framework of its competencies and mission as a government entity to promote and guarantee human rights.”
Plaza Bolivar, the epicenter of the demonstration
As planned by the 50 social organizations responsible for the event, two columns began the march towards the city center. At 9 in the morning, they set off from Calle 60 with Carrera 7 and from Parque Nacional towards Plaza Bolivar.
Around noon, approximately 17,000 people gathered in the square. Sources from the CUT, one of the organizers, state that “mobilizations are planned in all capital cities of Colombia and their surrounding areas, so the participation of around 100,000 people is expected nationwide.”
Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez is participating alongside the Minister of the Interior in the Unified Command Post at the Tercer Milenio Park in the city center. From there, they will monitor that the day proceeds normally and peacefully.
A “Social Referendum” for the Government
Lilia Solano, Deputy Minister for Social Dialogue, under the Ministry of the Interior, states that the march has been organized “to go out and demand those democratic transformations that the country has been waiting for so long.” In the past year, the country has seen other marches both in favor of and against government policies. However, for the Deputy Minister, “this will be one of the largest experiences of what could be a kind of social referendum, where people want to hear from our government… how this country will move forward with the reforms it needs.”
The practice of taking to the streets is common in Colombian politics, not only among left-wing political forces, which currently hold the government in the country. Conservative organizations have also called for marches, both these days and in the past, using civilian participation as a political instrument.
“The Congress makes the laws, but together we have to carry out these reforms by expressing our support for these initiatives. In other words, it is not an exclusive task of Congress,” said Lilia Solano, defending the popular mobilization day promoted by the government to which she belongs.