Colombian students will lead a new series of marches in cities and towns across the country in protest against chronic underfunding and debt in the public education system. The protests have lasted more than one month and are supported by various trade unions, social organisations and indigenous movements.
Other factors driving the broad scope of the marches include President Iván Duque’s tax reform proposals and rising fuel costs.
‘It will be a massive march, throughout the country… We hope the Government presents us a strong proposal because we want to reach a quick agreement. However, this march will be for the Government to really keep in mind that the country is collapsing’, said Alejandro Palacio of the ACREES students union.
Student leaders have demanded an extra $1.4 billion financing over the next decade, on top of the $1.1 billion agreed between the government and university chancellors. Other demands include doubling research budgets and freezing tuition fees.
The student marches are the largest in Colombia since 2011. Student and human rights organisations have heavily criticised the response of state security forces, particularly the ESMAD armoured police units, which have been filmed committing high levels of brutality against demonstrators.