Colombia’s Duque seeks to calm protest as grievances fester

Colombian President Ivan Duque has met with political opponents and expressed more optimism than his critics about progress made towards calming more than a week of widespread and sometimes deadly street protests.

“We had a productive meeting with the coalition of hope, a great opportunity for dialogue, overcoming differences and without political point-scoring,” Duque wrote on social media on Friday, referring to the group of politicians.

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But opposition attendees said Duque needed to do a lot of work to address demands for action on poverty, unemployment and ending police violence.

The group “entered talks with President Ivan Duque as opposition and we left as opposition”, said Jorge Robledo, a senator for Colombia’s Dignity party.

“We laid out our points of view and he laid out his.”

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They urged Duque to meet with civil society protest organisers.

Peaceful marches took place in Bogota and Medellin, while roadblocks across the country slowed food deliveries, causing some prices to rise.

Impeding supplies of food and other items, such as oxygen, is never justified, Duque said.

“Yes to conversation … but no to roadblocks,” he told journalists. “They’re not peaceful because they affect the rights of others.”

 

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