President Juan Manuel Santos said Wednesday he is willing to withdraw a controversial higher education reform bill that has sparked massive student protests throughout Colombia.
According to the presidential Twitter account, Santos “accepts the withdrawal of the project of education reform only if the [student] strike is ended and classes are continued.”
The President was asked to take the reform off the table by the U and the Liberal Party, the two biggest political parties in Santos’ coalition.
U Party Senator Pilnio Olano instigated the petition that led to Santos’ decision. The senator asked the President to withdraw the bill and to present it the following year: “The Congress wants to discuss the project. It is Congress that legally has to define Colombia’s public education,” Olano said.
Members of the Liberal Party backed the U Party’s decision. Liberal Senator Luis Fernando Velasco said that “a law that encounters this much opposition … does not have a bright future.”
Santos’ decision followed weeks in which more than half a million students were on strike and on several occasions massively took to the streets to protest the reform they considered harmful to the higher education system.
Colombian students, supported by labor unions, had announced to “shut down” the Colombian capital Bogota and massively protest in other cities on Thursday.
The student organizations have not said the protests will be canceled or not.