Colombia: against the repression of the regime and the Duque-Uribe government Democratic organization, mobilization and struggle

By Impulso Socialista

In recent weeks, Colombia has been plunged into a spiral of violence and repression by the state and paramilitarism that adds up to 33 massacres and 97 murders of human rights defenders in 2020. Today, the people expresses a general repudiation against the massacre of 8 people from a peasant family in Samaniego (Nariño) and for the murder of 5 young Afro-Colombians between 14 and 16 years old found in a sugar cane field near the city of Cali.

Where does this type of repression come from and why is it being perpetuated?

The Colombian people are characterized by their strong experience of struggle. Despite the repression by the military and parastatal forces, the streets and the fields are filled with blockades and mobilizations with increasing strength. The last three years have been marked by a rise in social struggles where the student movement, women’s movement, indigenous peoples, peasants and Afro-descendant communities have been the protagonists.

One of the reasons that was powerful fuel for the mobilizations at the end of 2019 is the evident and stark relationship between the state, systematic assassinations, massacres and paramilitary groups: a whole legacy of the growing lumpenization of the bourgeoisie in Colombia that, since the 1980s, has generated close ties between state institutions, drug trafficking and paramilitarism.

It is important to establish a chronology as to where these forms of repression arise: in the 60s and 70s there was a boom in the struggle of the working class in the country with major stoppages in production, the last and largest of which began on September 14, 1977, which significantly marked our history. In addition, there was a strong influence of the guerrilla movements thanks to the Nicaraguan and Cuban revolutions, where guerrillas proliferated in different territories and others grew, among them the FARC, the ELN and the EPL.

In this scenario, the bourgeoisie and imperialism carried out a counter-revolutionary plan that they had been applying since the 1960s under the name of the National Security Doctrine, where the category of insurgency included individuals, groups and social organizations that potentially represented a threat to the established order: unions, leftist political parties, social movements, guerrilla organizations, journalists, teachers, artists, university professors, representations of critical thinking, among others.

By the 1980s, the Colombian bourgeoisie and US imperialism, with support from Israel, strengthened, financed and trained paramilitary groups. At the same time, multinationals, transnationals, businessmen and landowners armed parastatal armies under the watchful eyes of the state with the aim of combating “terrorism”. During this time, Alvaro Uribe Vélez was director of civil aeronautics, which gave free rein to drug trafficking by the Medellín cartel, and later became governor of Antioquia, where he promoted the formation of paramilitary groups such as CONVIVIR. Thus, this project against “terrorism” only provoked the liberation of territories for the expansion of extractivism, latifundia, and of course, drug trafficking; all of this from the forced displacement of entire communities, systematic massacres, political persecution, and the appeasement of the class struggle.

This counter-revolutionary advance would not have been possible in such a forceful way if the most influential leaderships of the mass movement had not called for class conciliation with a reformist program based on failed dialogues, where in the name of peace, a radical program was ceded to the bourgeoisie, while its bases and the mass movement fought against the repressive advance of the state. This, in addition, generated a greater adaptation of these leaderships of the mass movement to bourgeois democracy, putting the working class on the defensive, whose main consequence was the abandonment of the historical methods of the working class such as strikes, democratic assemblies and organization from below, since armed reformism prioritized guerrilla tactics, turning them into a strategic objective to have political belligerence within the state. With this, other sectors took the elections as their only strategy and this led to the bureaucratization of the combative unions and peasant organizations, curtailing democracy and giving space to the authoritarian regime to advance with repression under the pretext of the fight against terrorism.

With this panorama, the neoliberal, conservative and paramilitary project of Álvaro Uribe Vélez was raised by the bourgeoisie and U.S. imperialism, allowing the country to become a satellite of imperialism to exercise control over Latin America. Although all previous governments were right-wing, neoliberal and conservative in their ideology, they paved the way for Uribe to deepen repression. For example, in the government of Andrés Pastrana, the U.S. financed Plan Colombia, which ended with failed peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that would give way to a brutal counteroffensive with The Democratic Security Policy in the eight years of Uribe’s government (2002-2010). During this period, civil-military methods were formalized and legalized that disguised paramilitarism with the endorsement of the State through military training and the financing of weapons. For this reason, we must fight against Uribism, the authoritarian regime as a whole and all its measures of National Security Counter-insurgency Doctrine that only produces more death and terror.

The people rise up against the Duque – Uribe government and against the assassination of social leaders

A decade later, a generation is rising up against the authoritarian and paramilitary regime that Uribism represents. The last elections were marked by a broad anti-Uribe sentiment, and although he won at the polls, by a very small difference in votes, Ivan Duque, in less than a year of government, already had on his hands a national university strike, an indigenous and peasant strike, along with mobilizations that little by little exploded in a great November 21st that extended for weeks, where thousands of people mobilized against the assassination of social leaders. After the assassination of Dilan Cruz, in the heat of the mobilizations of that moment, the slogan for the dismantling of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) was raised with more force.

It is clear that Duque’s government is weakened in the eyes of the people as a whole, and consequently so is Uribism. In spite of all the support of the imperialism at the head of Trump, the reality is that the pressure exerted by the mobilizations and the generalized repudiation, have made the Colombian bourgeoisie look for alternatives, divide itself and demonstrate to the public opinion that something is being done against the genocide of Uribe, after the demands and denunciations that have been made by sectors of the opposition, social and human rights organizations, NGOs, international organizations, among others. This situation even led the Supreme Court to take a house-to-house precautionary measure against the former president, while investigations were being carried out against him, an issue that further weakens the governing party.

Overcoming Repression: Democratic Organization, Mobilization and Struggle

Although the attack againstUribe and the government is a positive sign, the bourgeoisie will continue its offensive against the working class and the popular sectors, to pass the adjustment required by the IMF, the WB, and the OECD with the package of labor, pension and tax reforms that, in the midst of the economic crisis and pandemic, carries on with massive layoffs and reduction of wages. This can only be achieved through greater repression and State terrorism using the military forces, a clear reflection of which is the massacre of 8 children by the army in Caquetá in November 2019 or the rape of an indigenous girl by several military personnel in June of this year, and in the same way the paramilitary forces are used, which so far this year total more than a dozen massacres.

The repression has intensified after the large mobilizations. The reality is that the massacres and assassinations of social leaders have increased with the decline of the struggle in the streets. On the one hand, the National Unemployment Committee, made up of the union bureaucracy, whose leaders are part of parties that act as the left leg of the regime, together with reformist social organizations, have played an important role in stopping the struggles, because when the social mobilization was at its best, it did not call for a real strike on production but sat down with the government behind the movement’s back. He bureaucratized the regional assemblies and national meetings, promoting confidence in the State, using the elections as the only way out and calling for pots and pans at 5 pm when a strong vanguard sector managed to mobilize from the morning onwards to blockade the roads of the main cities of the country! This set of situations gave the government breathing space to carry out adjustment policies, but also to deepen the repression.

Although in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic it is more difficult to mobilize, the people have shown that even in these circumstances they take their claims to the streets. We have seen mobilizations for the universal basic income, especially when the unemployment rate is rising and there are no conditions to guarantee a dignified life in quarantine; mobilizations against femicide and gender violence; against evictions in different popular neighborhoods of the country; struggles of the indigenous movement; hunger strikes for zero enrollment; strike of thousands of young delivery workers in Bogotá. This, together with all the expressions of indignation by the Colombian people, shows that there is a lot of energy in the struggle and that November 21 is alive. For this reason, in order to stop State terrorism and repression, it is necessary to strengthen democratic spaces for the working class and the popular sectors through regional assemblies linked to national meetings, where workers’ assemblies by productive sector are built, as a fundamental element to prepare the general strike for an indefinite period and thus defend a program that contains the demands of all the people.

Part of the program must have, in essence, a strong anti-repressive solution that demands:

The dismantling of all the repressive forces of the state, the destruction of the paramilitary apparatus and the destruction of the counter-insurgency doctrine, which is what makes it possible for the repressive forces to act today. Immediate dissolution of the ESMAD.

A trial and punishment of those directly and politically responsible for the crimes and massacres that have taken place mainly within the repressive forces and the political apparatus of repression, murder, massacre, genocide and gender violence.

The immediate dismissal of mayors, judges and prosecutors who order, cover up and protect repressors and genocidaires.

The repressive forces have never been under discussion by the capitalist state, so we are very clear that: Only the revolution will do justice!