Members from more than 100 organizations are set to march Thursday in areas across the country as the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos faces its first major protest, Spanish news agency EFE reports.
University students, teachers, union members and retirees will march to seek better pay for public employees, an improvement in labor and union rights in Colombia and against proposed higher education reform plans.
Borne out of an initiative by the Colombian Federation of Educators (Fecode), the movement is expected to have a presence in most, if not all, of Colombia’s major cities, including Bogota, Medellin and Cali.
Speaking with regard to the marches, Vice President Angelino Garzon said, “The government’s duty is to respect social protest and the social duty of leaders of the people is to ensure that it is peaceful.”
Within the past week, more localized protesting has been taking place, with sometimes violent unrest by students on several college campuses over what they perceive to be a government drive to privatize higher education.
Garzon added that organizers of Thursday’s marches “should reject and strongly condemn any violent demonstration or vandalism affecting the population and public or private property.”