47 Million Voices United

Sofia Nuñez, Social Media Editor

The Colombian National Strike was intended to take place solely on the date of November 21, 2019. However, for nearly three weeks, the country could not rest. Anarchy was the norm and the nation nearly exploded. Discontent generated by actual and former governments exceeded the limit Colombians were able to handle. Citizens decided to interrupt the silence and stand up for their rights. Lamentably, the social and economic hierarchy in the country created a divided perspective among society when it came to the National Strike; however, in order for the country to progress, we all need to peacefully support those whose rights are being violated.

Marginalized groups in Colombia live under severe inhumane conditions. According to UNICEF’s website, 70% of indigenous children suffer from chronic malnutrition, 63% of the country’s population is under the poverty line, and 47% of them below the extreme poverty line. The situation indigenous groups are facing is unacceptable. Additionally, other marginalized groups such as the LGBTQ+ community, campesinos, and black Colombians also have a clear disadvantage in the country regarding exclusion, disrespect, and lack of opportunities. Many people argue that because they are indifferent towards these groups, they are not disrespectful; however, this indifference is what leads to a lack of sensitivity. Like Esther Pineda, founder of EPG Gender and Equity Consultant says, “It is necessary to design public policies aimed at raising awareness and training of officials, justice operators, and the general population; and the development of urgent measures aimed at combating discrimination, prejudices, and stereotypes against LGBTI people.” Nevertheless, if you inhabit outside of marginalized groups, you are more likely to be privileged; therefore, you take the reality discriminated groups have to live through for granted. 

The more privileged citizens of Colombia need to take advantage of their position in society to stand up for those who can’t. “I studied, I work, I contribute to my city. I propose and not destroy. I am not lazy, I am no delinquent or vandal. I am aware of my privileges, and precisely because of that, I decided to do what I do, to serve. I invite you to reflect, and don’t let privilege cloud your empathy,” Daniela Maturana, TCS graduate and specialist in political communication, said. Maturana is a citizen who has benefited from financial privilege among others, but he realized at a very young age that we live in a country where access to education, jobs, health, and many other fundamental necessities are only for a lucky few. The lack of empathy in our society is reflected when people marching are defined as “lazy” due to their unemployment situation. However, what many people take for granted is the fact that not all unemployed people are unemployed by choice. According to an article published in Semana Magazine, in the tourism industry employees decreased from 6.03 million to 5.97 million. In the construction industry employees decreased from 1.55 million to 1.52 million, and the situation is similar in many other employment fields. This way, with the absence of job opportunities, and the low minimum wage, having a worthy income is almost unachievable. Business owners and employees need to support the march because as unemployment increases, the economy will get stuck.

Colombians need to take advantage of their legitimate right to protest peacefully in an orderly manner. Students, citizens, social organizations, etc, are all doing their civic duty by alleging against the abuse of power, fake promises, and synthetic illusions. Even though the government’s actions do not affect all Colombians in the same way and magnitude, we will all be affected if we allow this type of abuse to maintain and progress. We all have a place in our country, and we all have a place in the march whether it is standing up for our rights, or standing up for someone else’s rights. The more voices uniting to make a change, the higher the chance we have of being heard.