“We changed our operation entirely and focused instead on emergency nutritional needs of vulnerable communities. In one of Latin America’s most unequal countries, Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities are most impacted by poverty, with the latter enduring poverty rates in excess of 40 percent, nearly double those of the rest of the population. Into 2020, the protests in Colombia have continued without an end in sight due to the eclectic mix of demands and lack of leadership with whom the Colombian government can negotiate. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide. Ruiz’s chiva was part of a caravan that activists said numbered 10,000 people. In 2020, the situation in Colombia began to directly impact the education system when, in late February, public school teachers across Colombia began a two-day strike. When he heard a minga was being organised, he volunteered to drive a youth group from Popayán, the capital of the department, on one of the chivas to Bogotá. “We got neither. Shauna Gillooly, PhD candidate and researcher in political science at UC Irvine, said that the national strike committee should ally with those protesting police brutality to amplify the movement in the future. Colombia has confirmed more than 1.25 million cases of COVID-19 and its death toll from the disease has passed 35,000, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. Protesters are demanding a guaranteed income, more funding for health and education and an end to gender-based violence. “Art is one of the most forgotten sectors during this pandemic – there’s no economic relief, and the government doesn’t offer us employment opportunities either,” he said. When the committee announced plans for a march on November 21, the anniversary of the biggest mass mobilisation during last year’s protests, the government announced that select purchases would be tax-free on that day. (AP Photo/Ivan Valencia) The demonstrations follow a wave of protests … Violence in rural conflict zones, where many Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities live, has reached record levels since the peace deal was signed in 2016, nominally bringing an end to a 50-year civil war. Violence is far from the only issue faced by the Indigenous communities in western Colombia. The Colombian ombudsman's office reported 58 instances of mass displacement in southwest Colombia – affecting 15,140 people – in 2019, with an additional 19,000 people displaced nationally this year as of July. Ruben Pinilla, a teacher and organiser for the District Association of Education Workers, said that thousands of protesters had taken part in several demonstrations since June, despite the restrictions. Yann Le Boulaire, MSF’s coordinator in the western Buenaventura region, told TNH that in addition to an acute shortage of medical services, there is particular concern over mental health needs – long neglected in a region where stigma about admitting such issues is strong. 1 4. Despite the months-long restrictions, the movement has continued activities. Informal workers, who make up roughly 47 percent of Colombia’s workforce, have been the hardest hit and are also the most vulnerable to COVID-19. Instead, members of Duque’s party claimed, without evidence, that their ranks had been infiltrated by criminal armed groups, and called them “terrorists”. They are demanding an end to killings of local leaders, and calling on the government to protect their land ownership and implement the 2016 peace agreement. Colombia hasn’t seen such protests in several decades. Piled into overcrowded buses, old trucks, and motorcycles in a rambling caravan that stretched for kilometres, they came from at least eight of Colombia’s 32 departments, and some travelled for 10 days before reaching the capital, Bogotá, on 19 October. According to the 2018 national census, 4.4 percent of Colombians – more than two million people – identify as Indigenous, while an additional 9.3 percent, almost five million more, consider themselves Afro-Colombian. Protesters filled a historic square in Colombia’s capital Wednesday to demonstrate against the government’s handling of a wide range of issues including the economic fallout of … October 22, 2020. Mayor of Colombia's Bogota calls for reconciliation after deadly protests. 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