Colombia: Assessment of the National People´s Assembly in Cali

By Impulso Socialista – International Socialista League


The social uprising has seen the Colombian people rebel against the authoritarian government of Iván Duque, against the genocidal and paramilitary regime of Uribe, and to mature an experience with the union and political bureaucracy of the National Strike Committee (CNP). Since there is a generalized rejection of its conciliatory role with the government, this has made the energy of struggle still prevail, which was demonstrated this July 20 in the streets of the country´s main cities.

After the CNP completely dismantled the teacher strike in hands of FECODE, negotiated a Pyrrhic wage increase for state workers and warned in the media that it would stop calling for mobilizations, the government got some air and Iván Duque, along with the entire regime, went on the counter-offensive by promoting a tax reform 2.0, “a supposed reform of the police” and further deploying its repressive state and paramilitary arms, mainly against young people from the Front Line to try to prevent any uprising of regrouping that could raise the mobilization again.

Although the fighting in the streets has diminished, it is clear that a vanguard remains that promotes mobilizations in different cities of the country and tries to raise the people´s assemblies, but by acting in a divided and disorganized way, it does not manage to unite, organize and mobilize in a more powerful way, since they lack a program and a plan of struggle to overcome the current ebb and create better fighting conditions to face the counteroffensive of the Duque government and the Uribe regime.

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Faced with this new situation in the ongoing social uprising, characterized by an ebb of struggle and a counteroffensive by the government and the regime, a product of the absence of a horizon, of leadership, of a reference from below to orient and channel the energy that still remains active, influence the organized sectors that are not yet directly involved in this process and lead us to solutions that provide a true solution to the problems of the working class and the poor. With the CNP fully committed to the parliamentary solution and the electoral dynamic of 2022, since it is promoting its so-called emergency specifications in parliament as bills, initiatives have been raised from the social movement itself. The First Lines phenomenon, especially the Cali Resistance Union, have been promoting a series of assemblies with national projection for that sector, whose objective is the formation of a new political party. The social organizations at the head of the People’s Congress called for a National People’s Assembly (ANP) at the beginning of June in Bogotá, a space that generated expectation, since it was projected as a stage where the expressions that took to the streets en masse and did not feel represented by the self-proclaimed leadership of the CNP and its agreements with the government.

Although the ANP in Bogotá managed to convene an important sector of the youth, its late call, the absence of the union force, the main indigenous organizations such as the CRIC, the peasant organizations, most of the front lines, the people´s assembly grassroots, combined with hegemonization by the political project of the People’s Congress, it was not possible to raise a leadership, a program and an a plan of action to will fill the existing orientation gap or become a pole of attraction for the activists who are still on the streets.

Thus, the chapter of the ANP in Bogotá remains open, projecting in the epicenter of the struggle in the country, Cali, a new convocation for July 17, 18, 19 and 20, a national Assembly already conditioned by vices bureaucratic of its conveners.

The last ANP held in Cali had a taste of victory before starting, as the government carried out a national operation to prevent the buses of delegations from each region from arriving at the event at the Universidad del Valle. The police mounted checkpoints on all the roads, carried out searches and harassed the participants. This shows that the social uprising that began on April 28 did manage to weaken the Duque government, which will therefore seek to liquidate any attempt to regroup social mobilization. But since the movement is still alive in the country, the government was unable to prevent the arrival of the delegations to Cali, though it did delay the agenda.

The central problem of the ANP is that several of the convening organizations of the multilateral forces, mainly the People’s Congress, who had a majority, opposed the need to build a unified and democratic leadership or coordination, mainly for two reasons. First, they have not yet separated from the CNP, which prevents them from advancing in the construction of an alternative space, and second, being a majority force in the ANP, they see the opportunity of strengthening their organizational and electoral project. These political forces end up being a plug that prevents the movement from being able to build a democratic force that advances in the tasks of deepening the strike and defeating the government and the regime. On the other hand, since there is no other alternative, despite the generalized rejection of the CNP, it continues to have the capacity to convene in the street, promoting central mobilizations like on July 20, a day not only to commemorate independence, but also the date when the government presented its new tax reform, a scenario that, thanks to social mobilization, isolated the traditional military parade with marches in the main cities, rejecting the government’s call to support the military forces.

To build a popular, democratic and fighting national coordination it is necessary to discuss the method for everything to rise from below. In that sense it is worth noting that the People’s Congress as the majority force within the ANP decided to withdraw several of its delegations before the plenary session where the program and plan of struggle would be decided, which made the Coliseum of the Universidad del Valle almost empty, making the plenary session inadmissible. On the other hand, this same organization made an agreement with the church and the UN behind the assembly’s back and without informing it at any time, to hand over the university at 8:00 am on July 20, which prevented it from having conditions for the mobilization that the ANP itself had called in Cali, since the space was emptying and there were no guarantees of human rights. Finally, an event occurred that would completely break the space and force the smaller delegations and organizations to abandon the space, since the indigenous and cimarron guard together with human rights groups found two alleged infiltrators with weapons inside the plenary, a matter that it is also confusing because one of the alleged infiltrators is recognized by other activists as part of popular processes.

Faced with this, we see it necessary to question these methods that prevent the ANP from advancing and becoming a true pole of attraction that organizes the vanguard that is still standing. Our proposal is to build a national people´s coordination, democratically elected by the regional assemblies, consisting of delegations recallable by assembly mandate whose main function would be to stimulate the national coordination to unite the struggles around a program and plan of struggle that promotes Duke Out! And conquer the most urgent demands in the framework of this economic and health crisis, since it is urgent to defeat the new tax reform that the government has already presented and intends to approve in August, a reform that guarantees greater attacks by austerity policies by the State, that is, reducing the budget for basic rights such as health and education, in addition to the risk of reducing wages and generating layoffs for state workers. If we have said that there is no leadership that takes the struggles to the end, that is truly revolutionary and wants to transform the future of the country and the world, the task then is to build one. The regrouping of revolutionaries in Colombia in times of uncertainty and hopelessness for what is happening and what will happen is fundamental and necessary. We must be that force that accompanies the working class and the poor to raise their discontent politically, and in turn dispute with force against the union bureaucracy, the opportunist and instrumentalist sectors, with the electoralists who delay all the struggles for later, with the most retrograde and reactionary right. Although it is not an easy task, it is exciting, it means following the course that thousands of people on the streets demonstrate. Impulso Socialista in the International Socialist League invites you to be part of this.

For a democratic national people´s coordination!

Duque – Uribe and his entire government Out! Let’s promote popular assemblies!

For a general strike that puts the working class at the head of this struggle together with all the popular sectors!