On the evening of Tuesday, June 13, teachers are planning to hold torchlight marches in Bogotá, Cartagena, Sincelejo, and Riohacha beginning at 18:00 (local time). Ongoing negotiations between Colombia's largest teacher union – the Federación Nacional de Educadores (Fecode) – and the government have so far been unsuccessful despite the government reportedly proposing a larger pay increase than previously offered.
On Friday, June 9, protesters clashed with police as riot police used tear gas and water cannons to clear the roads, resulting in several injuries. More marches and other demonstrations are expected in the coming days; anticipate associated transportation disruptions and the possibility of related outbreaks of violence.
Fecode has been engaged in talks with the government over pay increases and better working conditions. Teachers are demanding a 35 percent increase in salaries and bonuses, as well as investment in education infrastructure and an improvement in the quality of school meals, among other demands. The government has previously offered a 15 percent increase, stating that a 35 percent increase would cost an unreasonable 450 billion pesos (USD 155 million).
On May 16, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in anti-government protests following a failed round of negotiations between education sector workers and the government over wage increases and improved working conditions. Teachers have been on strike since May 12 and some 8 million students have been out of school since the strike action began. A recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) slammed the country's poor and failing education system and urged the Colombian government to improve national standards and the quality of education, increase public investment by prioritizing preschool education for the most disadvantaged, and set better teacher training policies.
Social tensions are on the rise across the country due to poor economic conditions following a decline in commodity prices, insecurity, and rampant corruption and tax evasion.
Individuals present in Colombia are advised to avoid all demonstrations as a precaution.