Colombians unhappy with President Iván Duque's response to nearly a week of boisterous protests over everything from job losses to shark hunting took to the streets again Wednesday in a continuing tide of unrest.
The daily protests jolting the South American country proclaim a wide array of complaints but echo one refrain: an opposition to a government that many believe only looks after the most privileged citizens.
"We feel defenseless to everything," Lucy Rosales, 60, a pensioner in Bogota. "We don't feel like we have a voice that represents us. It's many things that they allowed to accumulate."
Several thousand people blowing whistles and waving Colombian flags began marching through streets in cities around the nation by midday.
The new demonstration came a day after Duque's attempt to quell the discontent by holding talks with a protest steering group hit a snag: Members of the National Strike Committee refused to join broader talks the president has called with all social sectors, fearing their demands would be diluted. That has created new uncertainty about how long the already costly protests might drag on.
"The government has not been able to learn from the Chilean and Ecuadorian experiences," said Jorge Restrepo, an economics professor, referring to recent mass demonstrations in both of those countries. "It has made very many mistakes."
The steering committee presented a 13-point list of demands Tuesday that asks Duque to withdraw or refrain from tax, labor and pension law changes that are either before the legislature or rumored to be in development. The labor and student leaders also want Duque to review free-trade agreements, eliminate a riot police unit accused in the death of an 18-year-old student protester and fully implement the nation's historic peace accord with leftist rebels.
Organizers dismissed Duque's calls to join his "National Conversation" that would run through March — an initiative that appears to take a page from French President Emmanuel Macron, who opened a "Great National Debate" to involve citizens in drafting reforms after months of angry protests in that country.
"It's a monologue between the government and its allies," said Diógenes Orjuela, president of the Central Workers Union, one of the main forces behind the National Strike Committee.
Several protesters said they agreed with the Strike Committee's decision to shun Duque's dialogue.
"Colombia is used to being lied to," said Ana Maria Moya, a student. "One learns not to trust in words."
It remains unclear to what extent the Strike Committee represents protesters in what has become a largely citizen-driven outpouring of discontent. An invitation to gather in a park or bang pots and pans quickly goes viral on WhatsApp and soon hundreds fill neighborhoods with the angry sound of clanging metal and chants like "Get out Duque!"
"We're tired," Moya said. "We're saying, 'No more.'"
Various leaders have tried to capitalize on the momentum, but none yet has emerged as the unequivocal voice of the protesters.
"There is a contest over the ownership of the protesters," Restrepo said. "I see students get out in the streets because they need more social mobility, higher levels of income, more opportunities at least in employment. But then the ones that claim they represent those students in the streets are the unions."
Colombia is widely considered in need of labor and pension reform. Few retirees currently have access to pensions, with the lowest-income earners the least likely to get one. Labor laws make it difficult to hire new employees. Even as the nation's economy grows at a healthy 3.3%, unemployment has risen to nearly 11%.
"I would characterize the demands of the National Strike Committee as highly conservative, regressive and counter-reformist demands," Restrepo said.
Orjuela, a former schoolteacher who participated in Colombia's last major strike, in 1977, said protest organizers would be willing to support a pension reform as long as it involves a state and not a private-run system.
Even as they parse out the details, the committee's general message decrying Duque has resonated widely, tapping into the myriad frustrations of Colombians.
An estimated 250,000 Colombians marched last Thursday in one of the nation's biggest demonstrations in recent decades. The protests have been smaller in the days since, but are still drawing thousands each day.
For some it is big-picture issues like not fully implementing peace accords, endemic corruption and persistent economic inequality. For others it is small indignities, like relatively pricey public transportation that is also slow and overcrowded.
One unusual sight in the protests has been that of giant plastic sharks hoisted by at least one protester denouncing a government decision allowing a certain amount of shark fishing.
"It's like all the groups are feeding off each other," said Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, a human rights advocate with the Washington Office on Latin America.
Few expected that such a mixed bag of motivations could generate a prolonged protest, though many now think it could continue, exacting both an economic and human toll. Thus far, four people have died, hundreds have been injured and millions of dollars have been lost from businesses shuttering during demonstrations.
The patience of some Colombians is beginning to wear thin.
Julio Contreras, a deliveryman who was tear gassed while trying to get 20 kilos (44 pounds) of chicken to restaurants, said he is ready for the protests to be done.
"They're not letting us work," he said. "The students should be in the universities and not affecting us."
Bolivia's interim government is accusing ousted leftist President Evo Morales of terrorism and sedition.
Acting Interior Minister Arturo Murillo said on Friday the complaint relates to a video in which Morales is supposedly heard coordinating blockades during street protests in Bolivia. Murillo said the government is seeking a maximum penalty, which is between 15 and 20 years in prison.
Morales has previously said the video is a "montage."
Bolivia has been in upheaval since Morales proclaimed himself the winner of an Oct. 20 election despite widespread protests over allegations of electoral fraud. Thirty-two people have been killed.
Morales resigned on Nov. 10, alleged a coup d'état and is now in asylum Mexico. Members of Morales' party and the opposition said Friday they are nearing an agreement to call new elections.
Bolivia's self-proclaimed interim president sent a bill on holding new elections to congress Wednesday amid escalating violence that has claimed at least 30 lives since a disputed Oct. 20 vote and the subsequent resignation and exile of former leader Evo Morales.
Officials raised the death toll by eight a day after security forces cleared a blockade of a fuel plant by anti-government protesters in the city of El Alto, near La Paz.
The public defender's office and the state Institute of Forensic Investigations said the latest deaths happened in El Alto. People gathered at a Roman Catholic church to mourn the dead said they were fired on by security forces there.
Police and soldiers were escorting gasoline tankers from the Senkata fuel plant to ease food and gasoline shortages in some Bolivian cities. The plant provides fuel to more than two million people in El Alto and neighboring La Paz.
Demonstrators were attempting to blow up the plant with explosives, which could have caused a "massive tragedy," interim Defense Minister Fernando López said.
Bolivia has been in a state of turbulence since a disputed vote that, according to an international audit, was marred by irregularities. Morales resigned Nov. 10 after weeks of protests against him and pressure from security forces, but his supporters oppose the interim government that took his place.
Interim President Jeanine Áñez on Wednesday sent to the legislature a bill that would allow the scheduling of new elections, without providing a date.
"This bill can be perfected and serve as a basis for consensus," Áñez said at a news conference. She was referring to the legislators of Morales' Movement Toward Socialism party, which has a majority in congress.
"The electoral fraud caused the convulsion that the country is experiencing," she said.
Congress does not have a fixed deadline to respond to Áñez's proposal, but it is expected to deal with the matter urgently. Legislators were scheduled to meet Wednesday night.
Bolivia's constitution says elections must be called within three months of an interim president taking office, which Áñez did on Nov. 12. If the bill is approved by legislators, the date would be set by the new Supreme Electoral Tribunal, whose members will be elected within the next 15 days by lawmakers, Justice Minister Álvaro Coimbra said.
After almost a month of protests first by Morales' opponents and then by his supporters, fuel shortages are suffocating El Alto and La Paz. Control of the Senkata fuel depot has become the most recent symbol of the struggle between the interim government and the former president's followers, who are demanding that Áñez resign.
Speaking at a news conference in Mexico on Wednesday, Morales said he wanted to return to Bolivia and would help in any dialogue and efforts to restore peace if he were allowed to do so.
Morales said he was Bolivia's "president-elect," a reference to his claim to have won the Oct. 20 vote despite allegations of fraud.
He also criticized the Organization of American States, whose investigators concluded there were flaws in last month's election. In Washington, the OAS passed a resolution to help Bolivia hold elections quickly.
Áñez has said Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous president, could face prosecution for fraud if he returns to the country.
Morales upended politics in this indigenous-majority nation long ruled by light-skinned descendants of Europeans when he took office by vowing to reverse deep-rooted inequality. The economy benefited from a boom in commodity prices and he ushered through a new constitution that created a new Congress with seats reserved for Bolivia's smaller indigenous groups while also allowing self-rule for all indigenous communities.
But many people became disenchanted by his insistence on holding on to power. Much of the opposition to Morales sprang from his refusal to accept a referendum that upheld term limits that barred him from seeking a fourth term in office. He got the courts to declare the limits a violation of his human rights to seek office. Then allegations that his supporters manipulated the Oct. 20 election led to nationwide protests.
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro officially left the Social Liberal Party (PSL) on Tuesday, as he prepares to launch his own political party.
Bolsonaro joined PSL last year to take part in the presidential race. However, he and Luciano Bivar, PSL president, have been at odds for months now, and their disagreements culminated on Bolsonaro's decision to leave the party.
The Brazilian president has already declared he will found a new party, which is to be named Alliance for Brazil. The official announcement is expected to be made on Thursday and the new party will have before March to fulfill the requirements for its national registration.
As Bolsonaro departed, PSL held a convention and confirmed Bivar at the party's helm.
The indigenous men's hunt wasn't going well, so they pushed deeper into the Amazon forest in northeastern Brazil. They ran out of water and went to a spot where they could drink and bathe.
Laércio Guajajara said the men — who when not hunting are Forest Guardians protecting the Arariboia indigenous area — heard a noise in the forest coming toward the water.
"Hey Paulo, the game is coming, the peccaries are coming close," he said he whispered to his cousin and childhood friend, speaking in an interview for the documentary "Iwazayzar - Guardioes da Natureza." The filmmakers shared the video with The Associated Press.
They got low and waited. What emerged from the bush, according to Guajajara, wasn't a group of animals, but rather five men firing their guns in an ambush by illegal loggers that left one guardian dead and another injured. State authorities said a logger was also killed.
The deadly ambush late Friday in Brazil's Maranhao state is only the most-recent demonstration of how indigenous people are increasingly vulnerable to incursions by loggers and cattle ranchers, particularly in remote areas of the Amazon that receive little state oversight.
Speaking Saturday after leaving the hospital in the city of Imperatriz, Laércio said he was struck on his arm and back. He turned to his longtime companion only to find Paulo had already fallen to the ground, shot in the neck. Paulo Paulino Guajajara, 26, was dead.
Laércio bolted. He reckons he ran 6 miles (10 kilometers) before he found help, he said in the video. He said the men had heard loggers in the area the prior day, but the men never expected to be ambushed.
Forest Guardians had previously received threats and wore protective vests while on patrol. Still, Paulo's father Zé Maria Paulino Guajajara said during his eulogy on Sunday that he never imagined his son would meet this end. He spoke through tears in front of the mound of earth covering Paulo's body. Small white candles poked from its surface.
"My son fought and died. He died for all of us here, defending this area," he said.
Video from the funeral shows his wife simultaneously singing and crying, at one point falling to her knees on the candlelit hut's earthen floor.
Concern about the rainforest has heightened after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took office this year with calls to loosen protections for nature reserves and indigenous lands. Fires used to clear land in the Amazon increased sharply in July and August, causing international alarm over a region seen as critical to curbing climate change.
Bolsonaro has said some economic development is necessary in the Amazon.
His government deployed federal police to investigate the killing. Brazil's justice and public security minister, Sergio Moro, said on Twitter they will "bring those responsible for this crime to justice."
No arrests have yet been made in the case.
Laércio, for his part, doesn't expect justice. He says he will continue to fight "as long as I have life, as long as I have strength to pull a bow and arrow or lift a club."
"We're not going to desist from this war. It's the protection for our future generations," Laércio said. "If we don't fight, even losing a lot of warriors, what will be there for our kids in 20 years? 30 years? What will become of the forest?"