Pots and pans cacerolazo protests resonate in Latin America

Medellin Colombia – When at 6 p.m. hit in Colombia, the sound of hitting pots and pans – the "cacerolazo,quot; – echoed throughout the country as they have since the massive protest against the government began more than a week ago. But on Sunday, the thousands of Colombians gathered in the streets of the largest cities in the country were not alone.

Colombia joined at least nine other countries in the region in what was called a "Latin American Cacerolazo."


The united demonstration comes after a wave of anti-government protests throughout Latin America, against everything from endemic economic inequality to violence against indigenous populations.

In Colombia, this more recent "cacerolazo,quot; also seems to have another meaning, as leaders work to maintain the momentum of the protests amid tense conversations with the government of President Ivan Duque.

"It is symbolic of that general dissatisfaction with the status quo," said Sergio Guzmán, director of Risk Analysis of Colombia. "With politicians, with the way in which governments interpret the popular will, with the way in which communities do not take into account the important decisions that affect them, with inequality."

People hit pans and pots during the & # 39; Latin American Cacerolazo & # 39; at a concert in support of the strike against the government of Colombian President Ivan Duque, in Medellín, Colombia (Joaquín Sarmiento / AFP)

Ana Maria Grajales was among the thousands of protesters in Colombia and hit a can with a dented spoon from her kitchen in downtown Medellin, the country's second largest city. The 27-year-old university student said the regional protest was a sign that "Latinos are tired of being trampled on."

"It's been a long time with the same story, that everything remains the same, with the same politicians," Grajales said. "Now, young people like us have no chance."

The protests lasted for 11 days in Colombia, driven by a variety of issues that included rumored economic reforms, killings of indigenous and social leaders, corruption and the country's new peace agreements. In Chile, protesters have been on the streets for almost two months, demonstrating against the inequality and repression of the government against protesters. In Argentina, there have been protests in recent months over the country's economic crisis. There have also been recent protests in Mexico, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, among other countries.

& # 39; Not just an instrument & # 39;

The tradition of protest & # 39; cacerolazo & # 39; It goes back centuries. It began for the first time in medieval times when villages used charivari, or "rough music,quot;, loud parades to embarrass men who married young women.

Since then, it has been adopted by French revolutionaries, Algerian paramilitaries and, in recent decades, by a strip of Latin American countries.

"It's not just an instrument, it's not just the noise it makes," Grajales said, touching the bottom of his can. "That is why we are doing it. It is to tell the president and the leaders that things are wrong and that we will no longer tolerate it."

In Colombia, Sunday's participation was lower than the massive marches that had defined the South American country the previous week, but thousands gathered in Medellín, Bogotá and other cities across the country.

It's not just an instrument, it's not just the noise it makes. That is why we are doing it. It is to tell the president and the leaders that things are wrong and that we will no longer tolerate it.

Maria Grajales, protester in Medellín

Colombian analysts say the protest was about maintaining momentum, as negotiations between the protest leaders and Duke have run into an obstacle. Although Duque has offered minor concessions, such as including provisions for the poorest Colombians in a recent tax bill and calling for a "national conversation," the negotiations proposed largely on the government's own terms have done little but frustrate to protesters who say the government has not heard them yet Lasting marches acted as a key lever for protest organizers in their demands.

"They are trying to keep up the momentum, now it's about maintaining the advantage," Guzman said.

The kitchen utensils resonated at a steady pace while the singers shouted "Down Duke,quot; in Medellin and the controversial former president Alvaro Uribe was a "terrorist."

Giovanni Romana, a 39-year-old social leader gathered among a crowd of protesters in Medellin, said Duque's response only pushed him further to continue protesting.

"Until now, Ivan Duque has practically been making fun of us Colombians," Romana said. "He is working against our people, against what we have built for so long. He has not really answered us, it seems that he is only mocking us. And what is the answer? This large number of people on the streets."


People hit pans and pots in Medellin, Colombia, during the & # 39; Cacerolazo Latinoamericano & # 39; (Joaquín Sarmiento / AFP) (Daylife)

That boiling discontent left Guzman and other experts predicting that civil unrest would only continue in the next year.

And for Romana, the regional cacerolazo not only represented the continuation of the protests, but the unification of Latin Americans against a "common enemy,quot;: government systems that do not work for their people.

"This will continue," Romana said, "until he shows us that he is willing to work with us."