Call for support for Colombian Teachers’ Strike as violence against educators increases.
Following a failed round of negotiations this week, and the killings of 3 teachers, the Colombian Educators’ Federation (FECODE) has called for new actions in the national teachers’ strike the federation launched May 11.
FECODE representatives said the Colombian education ministry has failed to move on the federation’s demands aimed at addressing the crisis in Colombia’s public education system. FECODE is calling for a reduction in class sizes, investment in the system’s crumbling infrastructure, the provision of janitors and other maintenance personnel, school lunches and public transport for students, improved teacher training, and compliance with wage agreements committed to by the Colombian government in 2016. FECODE presented the Ministry of Education with its list of demands in late February. When talks with the government failed to show progress, the federation launched a national strike that has included huge colourful marches, multi-day treks by hundreds of teachers from the provinces to the capital city, and classes in the streets. The actions culminated June 6 with the “occupation of Bogota,” by more than 100,000 teachers and their supporters.
Opposition to the strike, which has included both official criticism and a more shadowy smear campaign against union leaders, took a sinister turn in recent days with the successive assassinations of 3 teachers – Washington Cedeño Otero on June 6, Juan Artunduaga on June 7 and Johana Alarcon on June 8.
FECODE is now calling for direct talks with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, as a way to break the impasse. . The federation is organizing a “Caserolazo” (pots and pans banging processions) for June 12th and a torchlight march on the evening of June 13th, to escalate pressure on President Santos to negotiate directly with teachers.
Canadian teachers can support FECODE’s campaign for public education by writing to Colombian authorities urging them to negotiate with the federation. Please include a copy to the FECODE executive committee.
Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia – firstname.lastname@example.org
Yaneth Giha Tovar, Education Minister – email@example.com
CC: Carlos Rivas, General Secretary, FECODE – firstname.lastname@example.org
(The strike must be respected, Education must be respected, Teachers must be respected)