Colombia’s government and leaders of a national strike on Tuesday agreed to continue talks on Thursday as anti-government protests and strikes go on.
The meeting was the first between government representatives and the National Strike Committee, which consists mainly of labor unions and student organizations.
Other than agreeing to continue talks on Thursday, no substantial agreement was announced after the first meeting on the 13th day of protests.
According to teachers union leader Diogenes Orjuela, the two negotiating teams “have discrepancies about the character of the negotiations table” and they agreed to discuss further on Thursday.
According to the strike leader, the government delegation continued to refuse to negotiate the specific demands of the strike organizers.
President Ivan Duque initially refused to talk to the strike organizers and organized a “National Conversation” instead, but caved in on Monday.
The strike organizers have claimed that Duque’s initiative sought to dilate direct negotiations over their 13 demands that effectively seek major economic and peace policy changes.
Presidential aide Diego Molano asked the NCS to call off a strike planned for Wednesday, but this was rejected and the talks began while preparations for another day of marches continued.
Duque’s handling of the strike has further plummeted his disapproval rating, according to a poll held last week.
The government’s alleged resistance to negotiating the demands followed initial attempts to violently repress the peaceful protests.
Meanwhile, the government continues to stigmatize the protests, but has been unable to significantly reduce support for the protests or improve its own image.