Colombia’s government must end attempts to sabotage and even ban upcoming protests against President Ivan Duque, and engage in dialogue.
I understand that the president is concerned; his constant blunders, authoritarian governance and blatant denial of reality have backfired. Colombians are now taking to the streets while in other countries this has led to unrest.
The Duque administration’s questionable resistance to these protests is only adding fuel to fire.
The president must understand that he has already done tremendous damage to the country’s democratic institutions, and to the prospects for peace and prosperity of Colombians.
The president has done this without majority support in Congress and in some occasions in violation of the Constitution.
Meanwhile, indigenous people are being massacred, children are starving to death, the justice and healthcare systems have collapsed, and the 2020 budget is about go tits up.
Notwithstanding, the Colombian people have always sought to vindicate their democratic rights through peaceful means. Nobody is seeking to overthrow the government as Duque seems to believe. People just want the government to stop being deaf to their demands.
Duque has refused to talk to native Colombians and students, has refused to acknowledge the gravity of the mass killing of human rights activists and has failed to act against violence that is terrorizing much of the country.
If Duque’s persistent disregard for democracy, the authorities’ ties to organized crime and the terror imposed on the Colombian people does not legitimize peaceful protests then what does?
People have already expressed their rejection of the president’s policies in local elections and polls, but have found themselves talking to an authoritarian wall.
Colombians plan to make another attempt to hold their president accountable, this time through peaceful protest on Thursday, with the sole purpose of demanding him to listen.
The president ought to be attending the legitimate concerns of the Colombian people, it’s why they elected him in the first place. The demand he do his job is a legitimate one.
The government’s constant discrediting of the validity of people’s concerns, the fear-mongering, the stigmatization of critics, the violent repression of peaceful protest and the ridiculous conspiracy theories about foreign infiltrators are dangerous, not just for Duque, but for the people of Colombia.
Constitutional rights like the freedom of expression, assembly and protest exist for an extremely important reason. If these rights are repressed or removed some may submit to oppression, but others will feel they are left with no other option but violence.
Any Colombian president must understand this by now. This beautiful country’s history has been marred by as many 13 internal armed conflicts in 200 years, that’s one war every 15 years.
For the sake of peace and for the sake of the republic, the Duque administration must stop repressing legitimate democratic dissent and stop provoking violence. This anti-democratic behavior has gone wrong every time before.
Colombia’s indigenous peoples deserve to be heard. Colombia’s students deserve to be heard. Colombia’s lower and middle classes deserve to be heard.
All the world’s nations have obtained peace through dialogue and compromise, which has allowed them to progress and prosper. A refusal to engage in dialogue and to compromise impedes progress and prosperity. In fact, it’s what fuels war.
Last but not least, I urge the international community to keep a close eye on Colombia as the situation is delicate and the government is making it explosive.
Apart from the private interests of a few, there is no reason to return to violence. The public interest is the promotion of dialogue and compromise so that we can finally achieve peace and move forward, with Duque in charge.