Colombia’s anti-government protesters are set for a fourth national strike day, in an attempt to convince President Ivan Duque to negotiate changes to his economic and peace policies.
This time, the strike can count on the support of Colombia’s largest peace movement, Defendamos la Paz, which added peace talks with the ELN to the 13 demands initially formulated by labor unions and students.
Who can stay standing longest?
The protests and strikes appear to have been converted into an endurance test for both the strike leaders and the president.
Duque, who failed to violently repress the protests, appears to be trying to stand his ground in the hope that support for the protests will die out.
The protesters are trying to maintain the momentum that has caused visible cracks in the government’s minority coalition and the president’s far-right political party.
Protests almost entirely peaceful
After the government ended its attempts to violently repress the protests, they have become almost entirely peaceful as originally intended.
The president on Sunday tried to again stigmatize the protesters claiming that “pyromaniacs” were inciting violence, despite the fact that there have been no reports of violence.
The waiting game may be Duque’s last option, but whether this strategy will work any better than the previous ones is debatable.
With Christmas leave kicking in, students and state employees will only have more time to spend on the streets without this affecting their work or study.
On the other hand, they may just as well want to spend time with their families instead of protesting against a president who has proven to be perfectly capable of destroying his own political capital.
The difficulty of finding compromise
Duque’s abysmal approval rating, his party’s devastating defeat in local elections in October, and the surprising success of the protests are not helping the president and the protesters to find compromise.
The protesters effectively demand that Duque abandons the policies he promoted ahead of his election in August last year, but which have fallen from grace since the small print became public.
Considering their ability to maintain momentum and the president’s ability to destroy his own public approval, the strike leaders at this point have little reason to agree to any compromise.
Duque, however, is facing growing discontent from the extremists in his Democratic Center party over the government’s failure to crack down on the protests and get them over with.
Working out how to explain the concept of compromise to them may be more difficult than violently repressing peaceful protests.