On Monday, May 29, Colombia's largest teacher union - the Federación Nacional de Educadores (Fecode) - resumed talks with the government over pay increases and better working conditions as a teacher strike entered its third week. Teachers are demanding higher 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 so far refused to cede to the protesters' demands, citing a lack of resources.
Additionally, education sector workers have called for major rallies to take place on Wednesday, May 31, in Bogotá, Cali, Barranquilla, Medellín, and Bucaramanga. Associated transportation disruptions are to be anticipated and outbreaks of violence (e.g. clashes with police) cannot be ruled out.
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 12 May and some eight million students have been out of school since the strike action began. A recent report by the intergovernmental organization 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, among other suggestions.
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. A major protest movement is ongoing in Buenaventura denouncing state neglect and corruption.
Individuals present in Colombia are advised to avoid all demonstrations as a precaution.