COLOMBIA IN THE MAY FLAME OF PEOPLE’S RAGE
This spring, the working classes and the unemployed population of Colombia embarked on a desperate path of resistance to the fascist capitalist regime of Duque, which continues the reactionary uribism in the politics of this Central American country. Starting from May 1, 2021, the International Day of Workers’ Solidarity, thousands and thousands of people in the largest cities and regions of the country are participating in organized peaceful protests, which almost immediately after I. Duque made a stake on the country’s military, turned into bloody battles unleashed by government forces. This is a strong, long-prepared Colombian response to the long years of government response to their civil and human dignity. On the constant impoverishment of the most vulnerable strata, which make up the largest number of the population of this country, on the repressions unleashed by the government forces of Colombia against its own people, expressed in hundreds of cases of murders and disappearances. The population of Colombia in the first two weeks of May 2021, these days, continues its opposition to the fascist government of President I. Duque – leaving victims on the streets of Cali, Medellin, Bogota and other cities. The unarmed Colombians are opposed by carefully trained and organized forces of the repressive apparatus, which have long been united in this country with the ultra-right paramilitaries who guard the calm life and stability of the ruling Colombian elites. The duty of the modern internationalist communist movement is to provide the maximum possible support for the class struggle of the people of Colombia – at all available information and technical levels.
Cali, Bogota, Pereira, Popayan, Pasto and other important urban centers of the country were the scene of fierce battles against the anti-human actions of the regime of I. Duque. The fascist regime of I. Duque, a protégé of uribism, is a logical continuation of the pro-American governments of Alvaro Uribe and Santos, associated with corruption, the murder of a large number of Colombians who showed themselves as opposition to the oligarchic ruling elite, or sympathizers with it, not to mention systematic violations of human rights.
In Colombia, a popular guerrilla struggle has been going on against the ruling class for decades, partly only interrupted after 2016, when the Santos government, with the help of international arbitrators in Havana, concluded the Armistice Treaty, on conditions that were guaranteed not only by FARC combatants, but and the government side. However, the terms of the peace agreement on a civil armistice were repeatedly violated by state paramilitarist structures – in several years more than 150 representatives of partisans who laid down their arms were physically exterminated. When the former militants realized that the ruling class of Colombia resorted to the peace treaty only under pressure from the international community, for their own prestige, but not only not having a consistent desire to fulfill all of its subparagraphs, but in fact, knowingly exposing the FARC guerrillas who laid down their arms under the attack of illegal ultra-right military groups, – in 2019, part of the people’s combatants announced the resumption of armed guerrilla warfare, – the only possible version of class confrontation in the terrible neo-fascist conditions. Since that time, the FARC-EP has operated in parallel with the legal struggle of the Colombian people for their rights, serving as a vivid example of the extreme and necessary measures for which the representatives of the popular armed opposition are always ready.
The reason for the real resistant fluctuations in Colombia was the attempts of the Duque government, an outspoken opponent of civil reconciliation in Colombia, expressing the interests of the oligarchy that put him in power, to introduce changes into the tax system dictated solely by the interests of making a profit. The oligarchy almost did not consider it necessary to hide the fact that the funds received from the tax change would only replenish the material surpluses of the richest social stratum. The latter in Colombia for decades remains an adherent of the antisocial neoliberal economic and political course laid down in the last century by the Washington Consensus. Such an uneven elite path of development led Colombia, like most Latin American countries, to an almost feudal situation, launching history in the direction of regression: and now, by the first quarter of the 21st century, the country is ruled by an influential ruling elite, in percentage terms approaching 1% of the total population. Against the background of the rapid impoverishment of the remaining 90% of the citizens of this country, an explosion of popular discontent would be inevitable. Considering the fact that life in Bogota and other large cities of the country is the most dangerous in terms of murders caused by the crime level that Colombia traditionally shares with Brazil, and – the consequences of the pandemic that struck the crisis of the medical system have led to the patience of millions Colombians, suffering from hunger and unemployment, were overcrowded, and, instead of the annual thousand-strong protest demonstrations, the opposition brought tens and hundreds of thousands of indignant and disadvantaged citizens to the streets.
Independent analysts from Colombian higher education institutions believed that the introduction of a new tax regime by a criminal government bureaucracy could extract more than 25 trillion pesos in net profit, moreover, from the squalid pockets of ordinary taxpayers.
The dictatorial regime of Duque – Uribe is holding a “table of national dialogue” with big businessmen and their political parties – that is, with the same people who are responsible for the severe crisis, which manifested itself to the utmost in the life of the most vulnerable social strata in need of social institutions. protections that political elites are currently cutting back in every possible way.
In fact, the current pretext was only a detonator – the reason for the emergence of the largest-scale protest events in Colombia over the past 40 years is the general obsessive background of dehumanization of all aspects of the life of Colombians, the polarization of wealth and poverty, brought to its peak. With the help of special forces, in the creation of which the “strongest” aspects of state paramilitarism, legitimized by Alvaro Urribe, were manifested by the method of draining part of the top of the illegal ultra-right organization AUC, and bringing out a new type of legitimate military structures to conduct special operations, in fact, directed against the Colombian people. Ivan Duque “accepted the challenge” of the protesting majority, having resorted to an open call addressed to the upper and middle social strata of the country to “defend” against the rebellious people. However, the puppet government of Duque did not take into account the fact that as a result of the global economic crisis, which entered its apogee by the beginning of the third decade of the twenty-first century, and caused clearly manifested gaps in all state and institutions, the middle class in the country turned out to be virtually non-existent. And if earlier, a few years ago, sociologists and political scientists serving the ruling political and economic elite could talk about the nominal existence of the middle class, then the growing gap between the richest and the poorest and most vulnerable groups of Colombians, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, has become absolutely impassable and visual, reducing to zero all attempts to “find” some more or less large-scale social stratum on which the ruling forces could rely.
In Colombia, the greatest indignation of the opposition intelligentsia and student youth, which make up the core of the protest, was caused by the ongoing open legalization of paramilitarism, which has been state-owned in Colombia for more than a quarter of a century. Despite the fact that the early days of mass popular protest were marked by dozens of victims killed in unequal street fighting, protests and strikes continue across the country. Only according to media reports from official channels and representatives of the moderate opposition, by May 10, 2021, more than 100 victims were officially recorded killed, more than 200 protesters were missing, and hundreds of people were injured, tortured, raped, and held in cruel conditions.
One of the new demands of the resistance is the demand for a fair trial and punishment for those who are politically responsible for the massacres and crimes against the participants in the protest mobilization of the popular majority. After an unsuccessful three-hour dialogue between the National Unemployment Committee of Colombia and the government of Ivan Duque, mobilization will continue in several cities in the South American country on Tuesday, and a large national march was announced on May 12 this year. Trade unionists, community organizations, teachers and other protesters, grouped under the auspices of the National Unemployment Committee, have called for a new day of national protests against neoliberal government policies and violence against demonstrations. Regarding the meeting with President Ivan Duque, the committee noted that it is very difficult to keep talking when the Colombian government claims that there is a “military situation” without recognizing that the protests have a social origin. There was no sympathy for the victims of the violence, which was disproportionately shown by the security forces towards peaceful protesters, ”Francisco Maltes, President of CUT, said in a public statement. The committee demanded an end to the massacre and legalized violence against people who exercise their legitimate right to protest.
“One of the main guarantees we ask for is respect for the right to peaceful protest and the provision of guarantees for mobilization,” said Jennifer Pedraza, leader of the Columbia Students’ Association. Labor unions and civil society organizations in Colombia have called on Colombians not to stop mobilizing protests and staying on city streets all week after the committee and President Duque failed to reach an agreement at a meeting after 13 consecutive days of social mobilization. They reported that they presented a list of demands and called for a new strike, which took place on May 12, 2021. Earlier, “Commando” declared a strike on April 28 and May 5. But young people, indigenous people who came to the cities, and workers refused to leave the streets, remaining in a state of protest mobilization from April 28 until now. For the most part, they don’t believe in any dialogue with Duque. They want him to leave!
In Cali, the committee called for a new day of demonstrations and announced a “popular assembly and a national assembly with the presence of the National Unemployment Committee” in the city of Cali, putting forward all the demands voiced by the citizens taking part in this national strike “- after all, this city was one from the epicenters of the wave of protests that emerged after the nationwide one. The protesters have resorted to the tactics of blocking roads at the entrance to Cali, which is in the focus of attention of state security forces and special forces. In this region of Colombia, a tense situation of discontent and social pressure persists.
It was during these days that the paths of the majority of Colombians, who decided to continue the protest, parted ways with that part of the opposition that put all their hopes in the method of the so-called policy of “dialogue”. These are center-left circles, such as the political party Coalition of Hope and the Colombia Humana organization, which took part in organizing the protests at the very beginning. Led by Gustavo Petro, coordinated from SOCINTERN’s London headquarters, into which Colombia Humana is integrated, the National Unemployment Office (CNP) brings together bureaucratic leadership from three union centers (CUT, CTC and CGT) and Fecode (Colombian Federation of Education), which politically responds to the center-left of Dignity (ex Moir) and to a lesser extent the Liberal Party. Petro finished second in the 2018 elections, which Duque finally won in the second round. Petro last week sent a message to the National Unemployment Commission (CNP) stating that “they should have stopped when the tax reform was canceled and declared a victory for the people.”
A popular protest mobilization in Colombia kept millions on the streets for 15 days. The protest against the fascist regime of Duque continued after it was announced that the changes in the tax system that initiated the mobilization had been canceled.
Government crackdowns involving the ESMAD police, army and parapolice resulted in more than 130 deaths on May 13, with mostly documented casualties in Bogota and Cali. Information about the situation in other large cities in Colombia has not yet been put in order and the true number of victims of repression has not yet been clarified. It is known that hundreds of people were seriously injured, more than 1,100 were arrested with violence, many of the participants in the peaceful protest, including women and children, received eye injuries.
Despite the fierce repressive pressure faced by the protesters, provoked by the paramilitarist forces, instead of the police, on the task of “practicing” the protest, in some cases street clashes between protesters and ESMAD representatives forced the latter to flee. Thus, in Medellin and Cali, individual special forces were forced to call in reinforcements, and street fights with protesters led to numerous injuries and arrests of the latter.
The fascist past of Uribe, the ideologist and founder of the ruling party “Centro Democrático – Mano firme, corazón grande”, makes many think that an unauthorized coup is being prepared in order to suppress the popular uprising by military means. However, this solution is unlikely, because the government is extremely weakened, and North American imperialism and the UN itself advise him on “moderation”, fearing that the uprising will become even more general. This is why Duque’s policy now is to call for “dialogue” to stop popular mobilization with the collaboration of the CNP union bureaucracy and the center-left movement Gustavo Petro, the Coalition of Hope and the Liberal Party, and the Catholic Church and the UN. If they fail to stop the protest mobilization of Colombians, the possibility of the fall of the Duque regime is high. In any case, the ruling classes behind Duque, forced under the pressure of popular protest, and other forces (foreign interests) will be forced to announce early elections. If it is possible to force Duque to leave, it is necessary to immediately remember that his place can be taken by political opportunists seeking an agreement with the regime to stop the mobilization of the population.
The bottom line is that not only will Duque leave, but a government of workers, youth and the Colombian people will be imposed, which will end the ultra repressive regime in Colombia and the capitalist catastrophe. The government is moving forward with an economic plan in the service of the workers, with emergency measures such as non-payment of debt, among other measures, and it breaks with multinationals and imperialism. In Colombia, the Colectivos Unidos organization fights for this and calls on fighters to integrate this and the unity of revolutionaries to achieve political leadership alternative to reformist options. Colombian activists believe that it is necessary to support the emerging initiative for the creation of the People’s Assemblies by all means – it is important to develop them throughout the country, as a space for communication between activists and communities serving the promotion of a national strike, and as a democratic mechanism for decision-making.
From the General Strike Bloc on May 22, 2021, a National People’s Assembly was convened. Popular movements and the public in other Latin American countries support the mobilization of the Colombian people against neo-colonialism and imperialism, which are putting forward demands for the dissolution of criminal special forces and the protection of peasant farms from the arbitrariness of repressive operations. Protection of peasant production is also acute; protection of the territories of indigenous peoples, the dissolution of the repressive criminal body ESMAD; justice to punish those who repress unarmed civilians, release detainees without legal justification, and Ivan Duque must leave voluntarily. The duty of the modern internationalist communist movement is to provide the maximum possible support for the class struggle of the people of Colombia – at all available information and technical levels.