Colombia’s Truth Commission urged the government of President Ivan Duque to stop sowing panic over anti-government protests planned for Thursday.
Duque believes a far-right conspiracy theory that the national strike is an international leftist conspiracy seeking to overthrow his government, a source close to the president told weekly Semana.
This belief is entirely misguided, Father Francisco de Roux of the Truth Commission said in a statement.
According to the president of the Truth Commission, which is investigating the country’s armed conflict, the organizations promoting the anti-government protests want peace.
It’s time to listen to us, for the government and the institutions of the State to understand the message of the citizens who demand the implementation of the peace agreement, the fulfillment of the innumerable agreements subscribed with the social organizations, so that there are no more children recruited or killed by bombs, nor more indigenous people and leaders murdered.
Father Francisco de Roux
The call made by De Roux echoes that of social organizations, lawmakers and Inspector General Fernando Carrillo, who have urged Duque to engage in dialogue.
To the shock of many, the armed forces went into the highest state of alert and began patrolling the streets of the capital of Bogota on Monday while the government began acting on conspiracy theories coined by Duque’s political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe.
De Roux stressed that “we are dealing with a plural manifestation, convoked legally and peacefully by the country’s social movements.”
“We believe that the state must guarantee peaceful protest, without pointing fingers or panic. Consequently, it should not echo unconfirmed rumors of external interference in the marches,” the cleric told the newspaper.
Rather than worrying about the calls for peaceful protests of students, indigenous organizations and labor unions, the government should act against far-right activists who have threatened to take the law into their own hands, according to De Roux.
The government’s militaristic response to the call for peaceful protests appears to have fueled popular support for the national strike.
According to commercial television network Caracol, 70% of the Colombian population supports the protests while only 20% oppose them.