strike that began on November 21 in Colombia generated a strong momentum of
struggle throughout the country. Two million people took to the streets against
Duque’s austerity package imposed by the World Bank and the IMF, which intends
to carry out labor, pension and tax reforms to guarantee the payment of an
external debt that today represents 54% of the country’s GDP. Clearly, Colombia
joins the strong struggle of the Latin American peoples against the IMF and
pro-imperialist governments, following the path of Ecuador against Lenin
Moreno, Chile against Piñera, Nicaragua against Ortega-Murillo and Bolivia
against the coup led by the bourgeoisie and the United States.
The government is the most unpopular of the last 20 years, with a 69% disapproval rating. After the enormous mobilization of November 21, the regime responded with a harsh repression, leaving several dead, hundreds injured and imposing a curfew. However, in this scenario, the people´s response was overwhelming. That same night, cacerolazos and various mobilizations were organized in all the country´s cities.
Since then, diverse and creative ways of taking the streets and continuing the protest have been organized. There was definitely a point of inflection on this historic day, since it was preceded by the university strike in late 2018 led by the student movement against the freezing of the higher public education budget; by the indigenous and peasant strike in the south of the country; by the continuous mobilization of teachers against regressive tax reforms and their precarious employment situation; by the massacre of 18 children that were executed by the army in a bombing, which led to the resignation of the defense minister; and by the regional elections that weakened the right wing, pro-imperialist and paramilitary project of Uribe, represented by the current president´s political party, the Democratic Center.
Given the strength demonstrated on the streets on November 21, the National Strike Committee, composed of various social movements and labor federations, was forced – under pressure from below – to call new strikes on November 25. Taking advantage of the social uprising, he Committee called for a negotiation with the government. But Duque ignored the demands and set his own agenda by first meeting with business sectors and regional leaders and, as a result, the labor and social leaders left the table, calling to continue the National Strike and organize a new national day of action on December 4 .
That same day, while the Strike Committee met with the government, the streets were occupied across the country by women and the LGBT movement against gender violence, in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, showing that the fourth wave of the international feminist movement came to Colombia and is here to stay, and highlighting years of struggle for women and LGBT demands.
During these demonstrations, the ESMAD´s (Mobile Riot Squad of the National Police) repression killed 18-year-old Dylan Cruz, who was attacked with a fragmentation stun grenade to his head. This situation generated a massive feeling of indignation and reinforced the demand to dismantle this state repressive force that has taken the lives of over 34 activists in the country over the years. This demand is not minor, since it is part of a broader demand against the systematic killing of social leaders by state and paramilitary forces, which add up over 600 since 2016.
Debates and perspectives
Labor federations, such as the CUT and the CGT, have refrained during decades from calling for effective general strikes, concentrating on Sunday mobilizations. Today, they are pressed by the enormous mobilization of the people who take to the streets with or without their strike call. The momentum of the struggle in the streets has overpowered the capacity of the union bureaucracy and other sectors, such as the MOIR, to lead, taking away their capacity to contain the protests. Their aspirations for November 21 were reduced to a formal mobilization. On November 26, they demonstrated their backwardness by meeting with the government without consulting any democratic space of organization. However, the atmosphere of struggle in Latin American, plus the experience of recent years´ struggles in the country, generated a different result and continuity. In organizational spaces such as the National Strike Command, they have tried to channel the fight towards a call for dialogue with the government, ignoring the development of protests and their real demands. Fortunately, the movement is being organized in each neighborhoods, university and territory to continue on the streets and demand Duque´s resignation. For that reason they are pressed from below to not to sit down with the government even to discuss salaries, and instead pose a different path, coordinating an action agenda and intensifying the strike.
On the other hand, social movements in Colombia have had leaders for decades that promote conciliation and reform as a maximum possibility of change for the country´s structural. Different sectors, like Petro’s progressive party, Patriotic March, People’s Congress, the new FARC party, the MOIR and the Democratic Pole, among others, having certain influence in the social and popular movement, propose siding with “progressive” projects as a way out of right wing governments and Duque. Amidst the agitated continental situation, they promote the defense of the alleged alternative governments of Maduro, Correa, Evo, Ortega, Kirchner and Lula, who did not take substantive anti-capitalist measures in over a decade in power, instead deepening the capitalist crisis through extractivism and austerity against the working class at the hands of the IMF. Those governments evidenced the right-wing shift of their politics, being punished in the elections and even fleeing from imperialist coups without calling on people to put up a fight.
All of the above reveals the need to move forward in the fight against the right-wing regime in Colombia. In that sense, the need for an alternative independent of imperialism, big business and the churches is becoming increasingly evident, as the “progressives” ultimately end up negotiating with those sectors.
Since November 21, the Colombian people have demonstrated within the country and to the world that they have the strength to defeat the Uribe-Duque government, its repressive forces (FFMM, ESMAD, Police) and paramilitaries, taking the streets as the real way to achieve all our demands. This opens a new panorama. The indignation and struggle accumulated by the youth and a large sector of the Colombian people generated a level of consciousness difficult to back down from. In that sense, the materialization of new scenarios of struggle is very likely. Therefore, the main challenge must focus on building a new revolutionary left that helps, in each democratic space of struggle, to break with everything that does not allow us to advance in respect to working class, indigenous, Afro, peasant, student, women and LGBT demands.
We need a political instrument to help boost neighborhood, peasant and indigenous assemblies in the territories as an initial democratic step from below to fight for a constituent assembly in which the people can decide everything instead of the businessmen, bankers and parties of the openly bourgeois and pro-imperialist regime. We invite you to meet the International Socialist League and join us to turn everything around.
Impulso Colectivo – Colombia / International Socialist League
Duque, the IMF and the World Bank must go! For a free and sovereign constituent assembly!
For the self-determination of the peoples!
Long live the struggle of the Latin American people, down with the bourgeois and imperialist coup in Bolivia!