The Colombian people have joined the process of rebellions and uprisings that are shaking the world and Latin America against the austerity imperialism imposes in the midst of its economic crisis, a mechanism it needs to guarantee the payment of public and private debt and recover the rate of profit. That is why organizations like the IMF, the World Bank and the OECD, demand semi-colonies apply a series of pension, labor and taxation reforms to guarantee the payment of their debts, attacking rights that were earned through workers´ class struggle throughout the world, because today in the midst of the crisis they have no other way out.
Since 21N, the Colombian people have been mobilizing not only against these regressive reforms promoted by the Duque Government and known as the “package”, but also against the state policy of systematically assassinating social leaders. Paramilitarism is the illegal tool used by the Duque regime to crush the struggle of oppressed sectors and the ESMAD is the main repressive muscle against social protest, which has taken the eyes and lives of many young activists that are rising against the regime.
Why has the “package” not been defeated?
Two million people on the streets, constant mass mobilizations in most of the country in a month of resistance demonstrate an increase in the level of consciousness of our country´s people. Although this process of struggle is historical (strong mobilization scenarios had not been seen since 1977), its strength of mobilization has not been able to stop the government´s “package”. A reflection of this weakness is the approval of the Financial Holding, Partial Work, Tax Reform and other laws. This phenomenon, from our perspective, has an explanation: despite the existence of assemblies for decision-making in the social movement, the workers’ centrals did not generate similar conditions for the working class to guarantee a real stoppage of production, and funneled the strength of mobilization of the sectors that are on the streets into a negotiation behind the movement´s back, weakening it and strengthening Duque´s government. Thanks to this policy of class conciliation adopted by the workers’ centrals and the entire current leadership of the National Strike Committee (CNP), a large part of the “package” was approved, the government was revitalized and sectors like students have entered a process of withdrawal, due to burn out.
The historical mobilization of recent months demonstrates that there is sufficient willingness to fight and strength to win. However, the union leaderships with the opposition parties and other traditional political forces now atomized in the CNP, have not been up to the task, allowing the government to pass part of its austerity plan and lift its head, with false legal excuses. That is why we, the most consistent activists, have to organize and coordinate to confront and force the leaderships to convene the plan of struggle that is needed and build the new union and political leadership that the working people in our country need.
That is why the National Bloc for an Indefinite General Strike -constituted to combat the union bureaucracy and opposition parties, due to their role as the regime´s left wing, containing the mass movement to prevent rebellions and funnel all the energy of the struggle into an electoral framework- must be strengthened in all popular, territorial and regional assemblies, and it must organize the workers´ assemblies that are needed to generate the conditions for an indefinite general strike.
Against the Bureaucracy That Seeks No Victory
The CNP) is composed of the workers’ centrals and some social movements. However, there are political forces that strongly influence this form of organization, seeking to solve the outrage expressed in the streets, through parliamentarism (elections). That is why its oriented position is towards peaceful mobilization, avoiding a real stoppage of production, yielding the program of struggle raised by the movement in the streets and popular assemblies, channeling social strength towards a negotiation in which only the union bureaucracy and alternative parties would meet behind closed doors with Duque´s government.
These political forces no longer speak of dismantling the ESMAD, now they speak of social protest protocols while criminalizing the young people that create various forms of defense against repression. In Bogotá, one of these falsely progressive tendencies is already governing, the Green Alliance party, which, given the mobilizations. Its leader Claudia López did not hesitate to remove the protocol and repress with the ESMAD, just as Clara López did as part of the Alternative Democratic Pole led by MOIR or Gustavo Petro´s Human Bogotá.
The workers’ centrals CUT, CGT and CTC no longer speak of achieving a minimum wage according to the cost of the family basket as the movement in its list of demands. On the contrary, they met in December with Duque´s government behind the back of the mobilization to demand only an 8.1% increase, an agreement that does not solve the problem at all, considering the increase in inflation. This is not all, given the possible pension reform they do not demand the annulment of the AFPs and in the face of the current health crisis they do not demand the disappearance of the EPS as a form of privatization of our basic rights.
Within the student movement, these same forces acted just like the union bureaucracy. Through ACREES – MOIR and other organizations that were part of the UNEES (a body that democratically coordinated assemblies by region and nationally), they signed agreements behind the assemblies´ backs, and with the seriousness of giving up the movement’s program in the process, without winning a real victory to solve the central problem of the Public Higher Education budget having been frozen. The crumbs that the student bureaucracy accepted, on one hand weakened the movement politically and organizationally, and on the other, by not providing a real solution to the problem, will take the students back to the streets.
The student movement, together with the indigenous, Black peoples and peasant movements, were inspiration, with their strikes and mobilizations for Colombia to wake up. However, their bureaucratic leaderships did not allow real conquests to be achieved.
Recover Our Organizations From the Bureaucracy to defeat Duque’s “Package” and Build the Indefinite General Strike!
On January 30 and 31 the II National Strike Meeting was held at the Jorge Eliecer Gaitán Theater and the National University in Bogotá. There were various struggles against bureaucracy:
1. Various sectors at the regional assemblies opposed the proposal of only holding one 5pm protest on January 21, without affecting mobility and without showing our strength on the streets. The movement once again passed over the union bureaucracy that is entrenched in the CNP and came out in mass mobilizations throughout the country from an early that day.
2. The same regional assemblies expressed the dissatisfaction of large sectors against the imposition of methodologies that are not put into consideration, that are not voted on and that begin with a panel of speakers in which only the self-appointed union bureaucracy, the false alternative parties and the movements that negotiate with the bureaucracy speak as leadership, keeping conclusions from being reached and agendas of struggle being established in a democratic and participatory manner.
3. In all the sectors organized in popular, territorial and regional assemblies, the rejection of the use of quotas to access the meeting was expressed, since the bureaucracy, with the excuse of the logistics of the event, practically hand-picked the names and filtered participation to avoid opposition during its development.
On January 30, in front of the Jorge Eliecer Gaitán Theater, we gathered more than 300 people from different regions of the country, demanding a democratic, open and participatory meeting. In view of this, the union bureaucracy used the quotas and the indigenous and cimarrón guard to avoid our entry, but the slogan “the guard with the people, not with the bureaucracy” made itself felt and, though they tried to avoid our entrance by appealing to the lack of space, when we managed to enter, after receiving pushes and punches, what we found was a empty theater with the bureaucracy sitting in front. Entering was a great achievement, but the bureaucracy prevented discussing the methodology and democratic election by regional and territorial assemblies of the CNP leadership.
After trying to pose different proposals for the agenda to be voted on, the bureaucracy maneuvered so that no proposal was voted, made time, got up from the table and, behind closed doors and without consulting, decided to end the event and organize two meetings on January 31, one of the bureaucracy and another for those who demanded a democratic, open and participatory meeting.
The meeting of those who demanded more democracy was held at the National University, and far from being a democratic space, sectors that are already sitting in the current CNP, such as the Peoples´ Congress, the MODEP, the Communist Party and the CRIC decided to meet before the meeting and impose a methodology that was not voted, nor did it pick up the proposal of the National Bloc for an Indefinite General Strike. These political forces simultaneously participated in the meeting of the union bureaucracy and false alternative parties, where they contradictorily did not impose a methodology of 80 interventions of 3 to 5 minutes each, but instead brought out an agenda of struggle in the afternoon, which we could not elaborate at our meeting. That is, they worked for the union bureaucracy to impose the agenda again.
The agenda of struggle imposed by the bureaucracy does not resolve how to prepare the conditions for a real stoppage of production, it does not take the responsibility of promoting assemblies by union, and calls only for mobilizations, even for March 8, which is Sunday, it does not talk about participating in the international women´s strike and does not include the proposal that it be a 24-hour strike from March 8 to 9 to guarantee the organization of working women.
Finally, given the need to democratize our space, several political sectors inside and outside the CNP have already given up on this need and spoke in favor of the methodology carried out at the National University, stating that it is already more democratic because the panel was extended, even though the bureaucracy continues calling the shots. Given all this, revolutionaries have tasks ahead:
We must demand that the leadership of the CNP be democratically elected in the regional assemblies, in order to gather the debates and the agenda of struggle of each sector, we cannot allow self-elected bureaucrats that play pander to the government´s interests to continue occupying our spaces. The bureaucracy has to be removed and the CNP has to belong to the workers and all the sectors that want to defeat Duque, his “package” and every retrograde policy.
It is important to strengthen the National Bloc for an Indefinite General Strike so that it becomes a national force that advocates a real stoppage of production and helps consolidate a truly democratic method to prevent the movement from suffocating and ending up in an electoral maneuver that will offer no victory to the oppressed sectors of this country.
To defeat Duque, a democratic and fighting CNP!
Against Duque and the IMF, Indefinite General Strike!
Impuslso Colectivo in the
International Socialist League
February 4, 2020