• Colombia: Three dead in protests against the Government of Iván Duque

It was the first time in forty years that they decreed a curfew. The mayor of Bogotá, Enrique Peñalosa, brought citizens into their homes and took out the military to control the excesses that staged uncontrollable mobs in some areas of the Colombian capital. Although the national strike was only scheduled for Thursday, hooded games cut tracks and sowed chaos from early Friday.

The result of a measure that lasted from 9 p.m. (3 a.m. on the Peninsula) until 6 p.m. Saturday, was a deserted city, gripped by fear, with neighbors armed with sticks in different neighborhoods, to defend themselves against looters . As expected in these times, the spread of alleged assaults on urbanizations, sparked panic.

It was the culmination of a violent day, of looting and confrontations between vandals and police, in which the permanent calls for calm of government and opponents were futile. Also at the end of the day, a National Police headquarters suffered a brutal attack in the department of Cauca. Three patrollers were killed and ten more were injured after the explosion of two cylinder bombs in Santander de Quilichao. The thriving town, nestled in a troubled region, plagued by FARC dissidents, likely authors of a terrorist act that reduced several nearby houses to rubble.

As for Bogotá, he regained tranquility at sunrise, but not the usual bustle of Saturdays. The uncertainty about what can happen with the passing of the hours, advised a good part of its inhabitants to stay in their homes. "Hard and difficult days are coming," Peñalosa warned.

To stop the protests, which have no signs of stopping, Iván Duque proposed a "national conversation" reminiscent of Emmanuel Macron after the pressure of "the yellow vests". The dialogue with social sectors, unions, workers and politicians across the country will begin on Wednesday with the intention of reaching a consensus on the essential reforms that Colombia requires.

It will not be easy, starting because leftist opposition parties accused the government of moving the looters' threads to generate chaos. "Mr. President: Colombia again rejected that you continue to govern for the benefit of a few. And it requires you to implement all the mechanisms and spaces for dialogue and consultation necessary to make all the historical demands and claims a reality," said Mauricio Toro, who acted as spokesman.

"The proposal may have a future if it overcomes two gross problems. One, that the social manifestations are too diverse and will have to organize to know who speaks and on whose behalf, is a challenge for the conveners. And two, for Duke to sit down to negotiate with sectors of civil society and politicians, having only 25% approval, it will be a huge challenge, it will cost a lot of work not to make large concessions and will have to negotiate with the government party itself, "he told EL MUNDO the analyst Sandra Borda.

And is that the Executive barely has room for maneuver. The low popularity of the President and the disaster suffered by the Democratic Center in local elections in October, it should be added that the parties that could support Duque due to ideological affinity, are not willing to support him as long as the President continues to hold on to his decision not to distribute bureaucracy among all. He prefers to follow a line opposed to that of all governments to control both legislative chambers.

Nor do the contradictions that some ministers show in public on key issues such as labor reform or the absence in his team of charismatic figures that show their faces in critical moments. Hence the voices of the Democratic Center itself say off-the record to this newspaper that new faces and a change of direction are necessary.

Precisely a turn is what the thousands of protesters -250,000 claim throughout the country, according to police. On Friday hundreds of citizens took to the streets beating their pans for hours, a common practice in Venezuela and that is becoming the symbol of those who wish to express their rejection of the Duke government in a peaceful manner. If they comply with the announcement, they will repeat it in the days ahead.

"Although the government's excuse is that there is no reason to protest because the reforms we reject are only on paper, we are marching to prevent them, we do not wait until they are law," Diana told the newspaper, that they made their casserole sound in a wealthy neighborhood of the capital. Beside her, Michelle cried "for the environment, labor reform, tax. Reasons there are thousands."

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