News Latin America The teachers of Cauca raise their camp at the doors of Congress

The teachers of Cauca raise their camp at the doors of Congress

Indigenous teachers from the Cauca educators union take over the Congress of the Republic, in Bogota, February 7, 2023.LUISA GONZALEZ (REUTERS)

The teachers of Cauca have lifted this Monday the camp that they had maintained for two weeks at the doors of Congress, as they have confirmed to this newspaper. The Government has promised to improve the health system for teachers in the department, part of a special regime separate from that of the rest of Colombians. To this end, both parties have agreed to create a pilot program that reinforces primary care and allows teachers to attend hospitals and clinics outside of Cosmitet, the operator of the limited network of clinics to which teachers in this area currently have access. department and neighboring Valle del Cauca.

The presidential adviser for the Regions and ex-congressman from Cauca, Luis Fernando Velasco, was in charge of breaking the news on the government program Colombia Today. He announced the completion of a technical study to analyze the situation and build an alternative scheme. According to him, the objectives will be to strengthen primary care and expand the supply of available health services. Agreements will be signed with the region’s public and private network to provide alternatives to Cosmitet. “We are respectful of the autonomy of teachers in their health care. Let’s see how it works [el nuevo esquema]. It is their decision”, Velasco remarked.

The teachers’ union, ASOINCA, has given an alternative version of the signing of the agreement. Its general secretary, Aureliano Guzman, has declared on Caracol Radio that the government’s commitment has been to advance the proposal to establish Cauca as an autonomous region in the health system for teachers, since the union’s main claim has been to stop share the network with Valle del Cauca. Currently in the country there are 10 regions, each one with a union of clinics that assumes the functions of intermediation and management, in a similar way to the Health Promotion Entities (EPS) in the general regime.

However, the repercussion in different political sectors was not only supportive. Uribista senator Maria Fernanda Cabal (Democratic Center) was one of those who expressed her rejection: “What example will it be for the new generations to see their teachers wearing clothes with the face of the murderer Che Guevara? They don’t teach, they indoctrinate!” The president of the Senate, Roy Barreras, linked them to the National Liberation Army (ELN) and pointed out that Congress could not work “under threat.” Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Alejandro Gaviria, questioned in Snail News the forms of financing the protest and a supposed ambition to participate in a “business”.

ASOINCA rejected the criticism, especially those from the Education portfolio. “It was very unfortunate, we had been talking. We had a fairly advanced agreement,” Guzman commented this Monday on Caracol Radio. According to him, the resources come from the teachers’ contributions to the union, who contribute 0.3% of their salaries. 20% of this fee goes to a fund for strikes. “The main reason [de ser] of a union is to go on strike to win demands. A union that does not have the economic capacity to go on strike is not fulfilling its role”, remarked the general secretary.

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Teachers have agreed to restart classes in Cauca. “We must guarantee [a los ninos] the fundamental right to education,” Guzman said in his radio statements. This afternoon they will return to the department and on Tuesday they will debate the agreement in an assembly. The goal is that on Thursday or Friday they can return to school.

Several experts commented to EL PAIS a few days ago that it is difficult to reach a solution within the current system and that the best alternative is for teachers to switch to the general regime. The medical service networks available to them are currently small and closed, explained Tatiana Andia, a sociology professor at the Universidad de los Andes and a health expert. For her, the general system allows an economy of scale, with larger and more efficient negotiations and networks. For now, however, the health reform bill does not contemplate any modification to the special regimes.

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