Heart-broken over the police killing of a protester, strike leaders enter negotiations with Colombia’s President Ivan Duque as anti-government protests continue.
The death of the 18-year-old Dilan Cruz sent a wave of dread through the country and into the presidential palace.
Carrying a LED text box saying “Without Violence. We are sorry,” a devastated riot policeman stood lonely on a Bogota street until a protester approached him and both expressed their mutual respect and appreciation.
The madness had ended.
"Perdón de corazón (…) depronto no podemos protestar como ustedes, y gracias por hacerlo por nosotros." Él sí es un héroe de patria. 💚 pic.twitter.com/0sUcLcx6qI
— Natalia Durán (@1_nati20) November 24, 2019
Duque, who had entered the strike in virtual siege mode, expressed his remorse over the student’s death and offered “our sincere condolences to his mother, his grandfather and his two sisters.”
General Oscar Atehortua tweeted that “as Director General of the National Police, but especially as a father, I am profoundly sorry about the early departure of our young man Dilan Cruz, who fought for his life until the last minute. My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.”
In honor of the fallen high-school student, hundreds of protesters gathered at the hospital where Cruz had succumbed to his injuries two days after a riot police officer shot him in the head.
In cities throughout the country, people banged on pots and pans to honor the dead student and express their frustration over the latest unnecessary death.
— ale 🇨🇴🇨🇴 (@wonuale) November 26, 2019
Reality kicks in
Duque had already lost the stand-off with the people on Saturday after the shooting of Cruz and was engaging in talks with labor unions when the hospital informed the nation that the protester was not going to make it.
Visibly affected, Labor Minister Alicia Arango took to the press to call for a meeting with the entire strike committee and other sectors to discuss “whatever concerns they have.”
Violence that had escalated until Cruz was shot had already stopped on Saturday. Strike supporters were only persisting in their protests on Monday waiting for Duque to invite them for talks.
Protests will continue, but the government has ended its resistance. Both Duque and the protesters seem to agree that their dispute is worth not one more drop of blood.
The president will have to appease the strike organizers and both will have to come with concessions, but the consensus that things have gone wrong appears to genuinely exist.
Negotiations will be rough. Duque is expected to make some painful sacrifices and strike leaders will have to explain the necessity to find compromise to dozens of empowered constituencies.
But all seem to want to come to agreement and sincerely move on and return to normality.
“It hurts all this disrespect between us,” retweeted even Senator Maria Fernanda Cabal, arguably one of the ruling party’s most radical voices.