Long live the rebellion of the people of Colombia
Down with the austerity and repressive government of Iván Duque
Since April the 28th, Colombia has been going through intense days of struggle against the righ-wing government of Iván Duque with national strikes and massive mobilizations. Thousands have crowded the streets of Bogota, Cali, Medellin and each corner of the country. Young people, workers, indigenous people and farmers face the brutal militarized repression of the Duque government. The units of the ESMAD (Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squad) murder beat and abuse with total impunity. Behind this brutal action by the security forces is former President Álvaro Uribe, Duque’s boss, representative of narco-politics and state and para-state terrorism.
That Wednesday, April 28, the National Strike Command, made up of the three union confederations (CUT, CTC and CGT) and Fecode (teachers’ federation), called for a national strike which was also joined by student organizations, the indigenous Minga and organizations from various rural and urban communities.
But such was the anger that the strike overflowed the leaderships and extended after April 28. It was expressed in the main cities of the country through massive mobilizations. The epicenter has been the city of Cali, capital of Valle del Cauca, where the protests have been particularly massive and the strike is almost total with roadblocks and routes to the surrounding areas. It is a true popular uprising throughout Colombia.
The reaction of the ruling classes and their State was not long in coming. At least 30 demonstrators were killed by the police, hundreds were wounded and arrested, dozens disappeared and various human rights organizations denounce different types of abuses and humiliations on the part of the repressive forces.
In a demagogic manner, even the government of Joe Biden has expressed its concern for the violation of human rights. Total hypocrisy on the part of the same US imperialism that has financed the dirty war against the FARC with the “Colombia Plan”, allowed the systematic massacre of union and social leaders (in 2020 alone, 320 murders by paramilitary forces are accused) and that today sees one of its main allies in its backyard in danger. The same applies to the right-wing governments of Latin America, grouped in the Lima bloc. We also denounce the complicit silence of the Argentinian government of Alberto Fernandez and the Mexican government of Lopez Obrador, who are part of the Puebla group, in the face of this massacre.
Colombia is going through a deep health, economic and social crisis, deepened by the coronavirus pandemic that is wreaking havoc and is claiming the lives of some 500 Colombians a day.
The situation is catastrophic for the working people. Unemployment stands at 17%, precariousness and informal work is growing, and access to health care is a privilege for a few. In the second year of the pandemic, poverty has already reached 42.5%, which means that 21.2 million Colombians cannot cover their basic needs.
In addition to all this, there are complaints about the delay in the vaccination campaign promised by the government, which has barely reached less than 10% of the population, according to official figures.
The straw that broke the camel’s back and exploded the anger and discontent that had been accumulating was the tax reform that Duque tried to impose in order to make the workers and the popular sectors pay the costs of the crisis and preserve the profits of the big businessmen. With this tax reform, known as the “Sustainable Solidarity Law”, Duque’s neoliberal government intended to collect some 6.3 billion dollars to “clean up” the State’s coffers and maintain the credit rating of the international risk rating agencies. 73% of this money was to come from an income tax on people earning 633 dollars, in a country where the minimum wage is 234 dollars, and from an increase in VAT. A full-fledged attack against workers, popular sectors and the impoverished middle classes.
The massive mobilizations that put the government on the ropes forced Duque to back down. On May 2, he announced the withdrawal of the tax reform and the resignation of the Minister of Finance, Alberto Carrasquilla, to decompress the situation. This first victory of the popular rebellion has invigorated the struggle which has not stopped, despite brutal repression.
The National Strike Committee, made up of the central unions (CUT, CGT, CTC) and the Fecode (educators’ federation) maintained the call for the national strike on May 5 and other actions, pressured by the enormous willingness of their bases to fight. However, up to now their policy is to call for one-day actions and not to prepare and organize a real general strike to overthrow the Duque government. But the reality is that since April 28 there has been a de facto strike, with millions in the streets, with hundreds of road and street blockades and massive marches throughout the country.
So far, all their policy has been, after intense mobilizations, to give truces and make pacts, as we saw in the long process of “dialogue” with the Government after the days of 21N of 2019, which was what gave Duque a break and managed to demobilize. They are thus transformed into a dam of containment.
Faced with the worsening of the situation, the government launched the proposal of a “social and political dialogue”, a trap to divide the masses in struggle, to save the government and the regime, which the center-left opposition nucleated in the Coalición Esperanza and the “Pacto Histórico” of Gustavo Petro view with sympathy. They are only waiting for the appropriate moment to hand over the mobilization.
The policy of the regime is twofold: the trap of dialogue and repression against the vanguard sectors, whom Uribe accuses of being “looters”, “vandals” and “narcos”. In this way they seek to isolate the most militant sectors with the campaign against “violence” putting an equal sign between police repression and the just workers and popular resistance.
The defeat of the government as a result of the militant action of the working class and the popular sectors would be an enormous triumph that would encourage the workers and popular struggles against the fund-monetarist and ” austerity ” plans in all Latin America and would substantially modify the correlation of forces to go for more. It is necessary to develop the assemblies of workers and popular sectors and other instances of democratic organization that are emerging in the heat of the process and to promote the call for a Congress or National Meeting of workers to carry the rebellion in course to victory and to discuss a way out of the working class in the face of the national crisis.
We defend the fair right of the workers and popular sectors to organize their self-defense to confront the brutal repression of the death squads of the militarized police.
It is necessary with the force of mobilization to set up strike committees in every factory, school, municipality to extend the general strike until the Duque government falls. Against the traps of the regime, whether of the extreme right-wing Uribista or of the center-left, that tries to contain and divert the process with next year’s elections to save the whole of the regime and the bourgeois state, we fight for the development of the general strike to get Duque out and impose a government of the working class. That reorganizes the country without austerity packages, without repression inherited from Plan Colombia and with a workers’ and popular economy that breaks the subordination of the country to imperialism and the multinationals, beginning with the nationalization of the banks, foreign trade, non-payment of the debt and the implementation of a heavy tax on all the big fortunes, to meet the social demands.
We of the Frente de Izquierda Unidad stand in solidarity with the uprising of the Colombian people against their exploiters and oppressors. And we call for the broadest Latin American and international mobilization against the brutal repression of the Duque government.
The triumph of the workers, the youth, the farmers and the indigenous peoples of Colombia will be a triumph for all the exploited people of Latin America.
Long live the uprising of the people of Colombia!
Down with the package against the people
Down with the Duque government
Enough with repression. Punish those responsible for the assassinations of demonstrators.
Down with the “Colombia plan”. Imperialism out of Colombia and Latin America. For the Socialist Unity of Latin America.