Colombia’s senate president, inspector general and strike leaders call on Duque to talk

"A public official is one that serves the public." (Image: Jorge Calle)

The president of Colombia’s Senate joined strike leaders in their call to President Ivan Duque to begin negotiating an end to anti-government protests that were finalizing their first week on Wednesday.

Congressmen meeting with stike leaders (Image: Partido MIRA)

Following a meeting between the strike leaders and representatives of all political parties, Senator Lidio Garcia (Liberal Party) told the president on Twitter to “meet with the strike leaders.”

On Tuesday, Inspector General Fernando Carrillo had already offered Duque to mediate, but to no response. Carrillo said on Wednesday that he had met with the strike leaders, who asked him to take on the role of guarantor of talks.

Colombia enters third strike day after week of anti-government protests

The president’s warped presentation of reality

Duque presiding over his “national conversation” on education. (Image: President’s Office)

In his latest blatant denial of reality, Duque said he was meeting with student leaders, among others, as part of a “National Conversation,” this time on education.

Which “student leaders” the president was talking to is a mystery, as the leaders of the country’s largest student organizations were in Congress talking with lawmakers.

Meanwhile, streets throughout Colombia filled up with protests against the government for the seventh consecutive day.

Anti-government protest march in Cali. (Image: Joakim Gundel)

It is unclear whether the president’s distortion of the truth is a tactic or if Duque actually believes his own warped presentation of reality.

Either way, the president’s response to the strikes has devastated his public support.

According to the country’s historically most optimistic pollster, CNC, Duque’s urban approval rating has plunged 12 points to 39% since August. Gallup put the president’s approval rating at 29% ahead of the strike.

Anti-government protest in Medellin (Image: Jorge Calle)

Duque’s ivory foxhole

How long Duque can stay in his ivory foxhole is unclear. The president still has 33 months to go before leaving office, and is expected to govern a country that, increasingly, is turning against him and his far-right Democratic Center party.

The government already lacked a majority in Congress before the strike. With coalition partners taking part in the meeting with strike leaders, cracks in the minority coalition have now also become evident.

Furthermore, Duque’s political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, is being investigated by the Supreme Court on fraud and bribery charges, and could be in prison well before the president leaves office.

Meanwhile, lawmakers and international organizations are investigating human rights abuses, including alleged state-sponsored terrorism, that occurred when Duque initially tried to violently repress the protests, but failed.

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