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Colombia braced for another general strike as unions call for demilitarisation of streets

COLOMBIA is set for another general strike tomorrow, with unions saying that the government has failed to listen to demands for emergency measures to deal with rising poverty and hunger.

The action was called by the Central Union of Workers (CUT). The trade union federation also demanded that the streets be demilitarised after 19 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in anti-government protests over the past week.

CUT president Francisco Maltes called on all Colombians to “maintain and increase the mobilisations” despite right-wing President Ivan Duque’s agreement to withdraw a tax reform package that would have disproportionately hit the poorest people.

“The reasons for the strike were not only the tax reform,” he said. “The reasons have to do with the refusals of the government to negotiate the demands of the strike.”

The CUT has sought to negotiate on six points since last November, when the protests began.

These include the withdrawal of a health reform Bill, the strengthening of the national Covid-19 vaccination programme, the creation of a national basic income and the scrapping of university tuition fees.

The government has been largely unco-operative and has meanwhile sought to blame unrest on dissidents from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the National Liberation Army.

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