The war with the FARC kept Colombian society trapped in a short circuit for decades. That breakdown was political, because of a number of taboos and complexes attributable to the armed conflict, and also rhetoric, because terror disfigured the same concept of dialogue. The violence has not disappeared, in part it has been recycled. However, even deep disagreements, claims and the desire for peace can manifest themselves today in a climate of democratic normality and, for the first time in the recent past, have the capacity to overwhelm the authorities. What was seen on Thursday in the main cities of Colombia, with the exception of a minority of exalted and violent, is a sample of the reach of a country that has new priorities. From trade unions to students, through activists or hundreds of thousands of citizens without specific interests who decided to express their discomfort.
The national strike was a decisive test for the management of the Government of Iván Duque, who has received criticism from opposition sectors and also from the more right-wing fringes of his own party, the Democratic Center. The Colombians sent him a clear message. In short, they sent him a warning, asking for dialogue and concessions that go from the economy to the security policy. The president could not not hear them, he could not ignore that massive cacerolazo that rumbled in Bogotá and late at night, but the protesters still do not know if he really listened to them. He said yes.
"Students, workers, artists and the vast majority of people who mobilized did so with the legitimate intention of making their voice felt and we listened to them," said the president at the end of the day, placing special emphasis on the condemnation of acts of vandalism "We are a Government that listens and builds. We understand that peaceful protest is legitimate in a democracy," he continued before insisting: "Social dialogue has been the main flag of this Government. We must deepen it."
Duke, in effect, has two paths before declarations of intent. You can keep that promise and opt for consultation with diverse political and social sectors, including those far from your Executive. Or it can be accommodated in a project that, at the end of its mandate, runs the risk of fueling the disunity of society – just the opposite of what was proposed when taking office – and, at the same time, will seem too lukewarm with uribism , the movement promoted by former president Álvaro Uribe.
The entrenchment attitude is probably the easiest in a polarized political context, which does not favor negotiations. However, it would also be the most irresponsible option in a country that has just emerged from a war of more than 50 years, with the application of peace agreements surrounded by doubts, mobilized indigenous communities, a relentless drip of deaths of former guerrillas and social leaders And a country that, after decades of self-censorship, is not content to protest and make itself heard. It wants to be heard until the end.