Thursday, August 14, 2014

paro civico: general strike

Strangely, Oxford dictionaries renders this as community protest, but it points to something much larger and wider. You could of course go literal and say civic strike, but that's a term we just don't use in English and wouldn't resonate with or mean much to your audience.  Of course, we don't have a lot of general strikes in the English speaking world these days either, but at least it will give your listeners more of a sense of it.

The region of la Guajira in Colombia just ended a paro civico where 80,000 were out in protest, all the schools, hospitals, buses, etc shut down in a demand that the national government help with the water crisis.  Totally reasonable request, especially given that one of the largest coal mines in the world (el Cerrejon) is in their region and generates all kinds of taxes for the feds and pollution for the locals (and the world).  The paro included, as they generally do in Colombia, blockades at major road crossings. 

I'm happy to report that it worked, the government sent water and promised more, and the paro was lifted yesterday.  But the Pacifico, the other region that is likewise marginalized and ignored by the very centralized government took up the flame and called their own paro civico today and 240,000 are out on strike. They are asking for better health, education, and road services.  The big drama is that in a tiny town they took a commercial plane hostage briefly as part of the strike.  Got a ton of press coverage of course. Ah Colombians, always coming up with new protest tactics!