Colombia: First round, Duque “retires” the tax reform. We must advance to defeat his entire plan


By Impulso Socialista

After 5 days of struggle, the Duque government had to give in, it could not pass the tax reform that it had planned together with the IMF, the government party and other parties of the regime. It now proposes to take out a new project, but the people have already said NO to the tax reform and are willing to go further, as they fight against the package and the Uribeist government with fury and will not accept a new reform proposal. ___________________________________________________________________________

This April 28, the Colombian people filled the streets against the tax reform, and have resisted with blockades and mobilizations throughout the country for more than 4 days, this being one of the most active dynamics of struggle in the continent, since in the midst of the current economic and health crisis, the Uribeist government intends to impose greater measures of adjustment and repression against the working class and the popular sectors.

The sabotage of the government through the administrative court of Cundinamarca, the threat of the spread of COVID-19, the strong smear campaign against the protest by the mass media and the repressive attack by the State on April 28, before all the forecasts and expectations of the organized sectors of the social movement, the streets of the entire national territory were taken over en masse.

The youth once again took the lead in the struggle, it is the sector hardest hit by the social, health and economic crisis. This generalized discontent of the youth not only in Colombia, but in much of the world, is the product of the decadent and savage capitalist system that has already destroyed the possibility of having a decent future, for that reason, it is the main protagonist of the rise of the class struggle that is far from dying down.

28A continues in depth with the huge uprising of November 21, 2019, where the people mobilized massively against the “Duque package”, a set of reforms that the government seeks to impose as part of the subordination mandates with the IMF, the OECD and the World Bank. The tax reform is part of this group of reforms and has provoked a generalized social rejection, adding more and more discontent against the government, as it intends to include more VAT on food, on public services, including the internet, which in the midst of a pandemic is fundamental for teleworking and forced virtuality in education. It taxes pensions, gasoline and ACPM, which implies an increase in the cost of food via transport, affecting the basic family basket. In addition, it contemplates expanding the base to include those who receive a salary of more than $ 2,400,000 COP in 2021 and in 2023 those who receive a salary of $ 1,624,000 COP, which may imply more taxes on workers´ salaries.

In the midst of the struggles, the rejection of repression grows, the repudiation of the repressive forces accumulates, since in the last two years, State terrorism has deepened through the murder and persecution of indigenous, peasant and social organizations through land grabbing, paramilitary reorganization, and the glyphosate spray policy. In the tax reform there are no economic resources for health and education, however, the government has provided resources for war, generating even more discontent, rebellion and processes of struggle. An example of this is how the government spent 2 million dollars on tanks, 12 million dollars on a helicopter and 14 billion pesos on warplanes, a whole policy of war against the people and no measures to solve the economic and health crisis.

During the mobilizations of April 28, 29, 30 and May Day, according to the NGO Tremors of Human Rights, 13 murders by the police, 655 arbitrary detentions and 2 women sexually abused by ESMAD agents have been reported. The police used firearms and relied on paramilitary groups in several cities of the country to go against the protesters, where the energy companies made blackouts so that armed groups could reach the neighborhoods. This has been the modus operandi of the authoritarian regime of Uribeism: to deepen the repression, persecution and stigmatization, towards the majority of the people who demand a dignified life, as a fundamental tool to impose reforms that benefit only large capitals.

The people remain in the streets in force, bravely confronting the repression and received May Day with mobilizations in all the country´s cities despite the fact that the union bureaucracy of the workers’ centrals in the National Strike Committee (CNP) called for virtual activities to decompress the energy of the struggle. They did this after the announcement made by the government in which it said it was open to “dialogue” (only with the Liberal and Radical Change parties).

Thanks to 4 days of pressure from the people in the streets, Duque backed down and ordered the Public Ministry to present a new text that modifies the increase in VAT and the wage tax, an issue that was not enough to put out the flame. Now, as a result of the constant struggle, he had to definitively withdraw the reform, but he will present a new project that will surely maintain the essence of the previous one, not touching the richest people. This, however, is not going to be enough for the people and their resolve to struggle remains firm. It should be noted that, as the process progresses, people on the street break with the narrow horizon of struggle with which the CNP tried to contain the mass movement and continue to mobilize, not only against the tax reform, but also against the against the government and all the institutions of the regime, denouncing the repression, the deepening of the health crisis and the social inequality that worsens as a result of the economic crisis.

Duque’s response was immediate. He explicitly warned in the mass media that he was giving the order to militarize all the cities of the country, increasingly authoritarian actions that now border on a dictatorship, since the strong resistance has pushed back the repressive forces in various parts of the country, especially in Cali, the main scene of struggle until now. This will not stop the discontent and indignation against this government, since a truck drivers strike is promoted throughout the country, the calls for popular assemblies and rally points to continue the mobilization process do not cease, on the contrary, ways of organization and solidarity to attend to the wounded, denounce and solve detentions, organize support groups in the repressions, among others, are being found.

How to continue until we win?

The CNP once again called a mobilization “strike”, but the reality is that the workers’ centrals have not guaranteed the conditions so that the workers can effectively stop production. Nor do they call assemblies by company, factory or productive sector. They do not seek a mechanism for organizing and mobilizing the working class. They do not carry out massive union membership campaigns, in a country where only 6% of workers are unionized. The reality is that this caste of the union bureaucracy does not do enough, or what is necessary, to be able to move towards an indefinite general strike, on the contrary, year after year they sit down with all governments to agree to miserable wage increases, while April 28 showed that large sections of the working class are willing to fight.

The Colombian people demonstrated that they have a lot of fighting energy as a result of the accumulated discontent against the government’s economic, social and health policies, since they increasingly feel the precarious living conditions imposed by the capitalist system in the midst of a global crisis and where the country suffers a situation of greater exacerbation of it. That is why we insist that we must continue fighting until we defeat the package and the Duque-Uribe government, since there was a partial victory preventing the tax reform project from being presented, but the perspective remains to continue advancing.

From Impulso Socialista in the International Socialist League we insist that the way to confront the regressive and genocidal policies of the bourgeois government is centered, in traising a true Indefinite General Strike of Production, the organization of the struggle and permanent mobilization. To this end, it is necessary to call to strengthen and build neighborhood, popular and sector assemblies together with regional assemblies, both in the countryside and in the city. The activation of the working class is fundamental in this process, the bases of the unions and social movements must pressure for the formation of assemblies of workers by company, factory or productive sector so that the plans are democratically configured to advance on measures of force like the production strike that we mentioned. This with the objective of strengthening the unity of the struggles of the entire people, which from the indigenous, peasant, Afro, women’s, student, environmental, artistic and cultural movements keep the streets full. This should materialize in a call for a National Strike Assembly to coordinate all the struggles and discuss a program that includes the necessary measures to resolve the economic and health crisis in favor of the majorities.

A fight must be fought against the CNP union bureaucracy that acts as an obstacle for the advancement of the struggle that is required to defeat the authoritarian regime of Uribeism and its government represented in Duque. It is essential that all this force is organized to overpower the leaderships that intend to channel the struggle towards institutional and electoralist measures.

To defeat the package, the tax reform, the repression, the health crisis and the Uribeist Duque government, we initially advocate:

  1. For a social audit, independent investigation, abolition and non-payment of the illegitimate and fraudulent foreign debt. For a front of debtor countries. The money collected is not available to solve the basic needs of the population, but to pay the speculating vultures that are in international organizations.
  2. Nationalization of banking and foreign trade, to counteract imperialist economic blockades and to determine what enters and leaves the country avoiding capital flight.
  3. Let those who have the most pay, that is why a progressive and permanent tax must be imposed on large fortunes. At the same time, the VAT must be withdrawn from the products of the basic basket, wages increased according to the real price of the basic basket, and layoffs and suspensions prohibited.
  4. For the large sectors of the unemployed and informal sectors, a basic income is needed to the unemployment already, according to the cost of the basic family basket while the pandemic lasts.
  5. For a single, free and national health system. All the installed capacity of private clinics and hospitals is declared of public utility, increasing the health budget so that in this way permanent staff contracts are made for all workers in the health sector, plus the guarantee of equipment and technology necessary for face the pandemic.
  6. For free and universal vaccination. Against patents and state production of vaccines under workers’ control.

This will be impossible if, as revolutionary socialists, we do not advance in the fierce and constant struggle to fill the leadership void that exists in the mass movement, in postulating the development of anti-capitalist struggles at the same time as the struggles for concrete demands. We know that the victories that are obtained in favor of the working class and the popular sectors, if they are not deepened, evaporate together with their fighting energy, that is why it is vitally important to take advantage of this moment to start the bureaucracy from the bowels of reformism. trade union and social democracy, social base and organize it under a revolutionary program based on the fundamental solution: the socialist revolution.



May 2, 2021