Colombia: historic social uprising at the electoral juncture

Elecciones colombianas

By Impulso Socialista

The last three years in Colombia have marked a stage of rising social struggle, whose characteristics have changed the political dynamics in our country. The great social outburst of April 28, 2021 as a continuation of the social outburst of November 21, 2019, was the response of the working class and sectors to an onslaught orchestrated by the Uribista government of Duque together with the multilateral organizations of imperialism such as the OECD and the IMF, to unload the economic crisis deepened by the pandemic on the shoulders of the exploited and oppressed people thus, saving the financial and rentier elites of the country.

More than two months have already passed since the great process of mobilization that marked a historic period of struggle with the youth at the head, leaving important conclusions to explain the current stage of the development of the struggle, where we revolutionaries must gather to raise intervention policies in the face of this new moment:

The current capitalist crisis deepened by pandemic is due to the reactionary and authoritarian character of the bourgeois regimes in order to maintain their profits, whose main tool is the deepening of state terrorism to contain the social upsurge. This tendency will continue as long as there is no solution to the capitalist crisis from the working class and popular sectors.

The bourgeoisie of the country found allies in the social movement: the trade union bureaucracy, the reformist parties and social democracy crystallized in the National Strike Committee, since its main objective was centered on reaching agreements with the regime and thus giving it a parliamentary and electoral solution to the crisis, an issue which resulted in:

  • The organized working class and peasantry not participating directly nor developing a general strike of production. 
  • Popular assemblies not becoming the genuine and democratic scenario of social organization and articulation.
  • The government falling via mobilization.

There was a progressive dismantling and demobilization with the lifting of the state teachers’ strike, the abandonment of the points of resistance and the advance to process the emergency list as law initiatives.

The social force deployed in the street, lacking a consistent, democratic and revolutionary leadership, could only temporarily contain the advance of the policy of precarization, but even so it demonstrated that it is in the street where the victories of our class are possible, since it managed to weaken the government, crack the regime and put a sector of the bourgeoisie in intensive care: Uribism.

It is clear that the results of this process of social outburst do not correspond to the content expressed in the streets, since the government managed to recover thanks to the role of the CNP and the state and paramilitary repressive apparatus. In spite of this, the oppressed people acquired an experience of struggle translated into levels of democratic consciousness that will be the basis for future struggles and puts the bourgeois parties, reformists and social democracy under permanent alert, especially since the contradictions that generated the social uprising have not been solved and tend to deepen, this country will not be the same politically and the panorama of struggle remains more open than ever.

It is more than clear that the social movement did not achieve a categorical triumph and this led to a gradual retreat in the organization and mobilization and will end up imposing the electoral solution as a channel for the social outburst. The reformist parties and social democracy are deploying all their forces to group the majority of fighters in the ranks of the electoral fronts, under the slogan that “if it is not this moment there will not be another to transform the country”, raising the Historical Pact led by Gustavo Petro as the only way out for the country, while he makes alliances with sectors of the bourgeoisie and raises an increasingly right-wing program. On the other hand, the ultra-right, weakened by the outbreak, seeks to rearrange itself but its main figures are worn out, an issue that puts it in trouble, while more moderate bets emerge but that defend the same bourgeois interests, such as the Coalition of Hope, Rodolfo Hernandez, Federico Gutierrez, among others.

For the revolutionaries, to build politics for each scenario that the class struggle generates is fundamental to advance in the tasks of the moment, to build revolutionary leadership, for that reason it is fundamental to draw good conclusions from the current panorama to raise a policy that allows us to influence consistent sectors of the social movement that were dragged into the ranks of the electoral coalitions, since in the absence of any other alternative the false exits gain strength.

The crisis of Uribism and the contradictions in the Historic Pact

The social outburst did not lead to a truly revolutionary solution, first of all, because a sufficiently strong leadership has not yet been built to push the mobilized people to draw politically deeper conclusions to overthrow the government and the regime with the aim of building another type of society; and second, because the bourgeoisie and imperialism need an orderly exit that keeps the institutions of the State intact for the elections of 2022. In this sense, the ultra-right is thinking how to organize itself, since after the social outbreak the legitimacy of the regime is questioned. So much so, that for the upcoming elections they have even found it difficult to find a political figure that charms or generates confidence in the Colombian people.

The weakness of Uribism, mainly condensed in the Democratic Center, cannot be hidden anymore, since they cannot advance in austerity measures, because they know that there people can quickly rise again and with more strength, and, therefore, it is convenient and tactically useful for them to participate electorally with figures such as Federico Gutierrez and Alejandro Gaviria, because they are washed faces of the ultra-right and that can polarize against the figure of Gustavo Petro.

The Coalition of Hope arrives questioned to these elections, for its traitor role in the social rebellion and with a vanguard that clearly identifies it and since the mayoralty of Claudia Lopez expressed a government of repression and adjustment against the people in the framework of the pandemic and social protest, in addition, the Green Party bench and the figure of Sergio Fajardo, is questioned. On the other hand, the Historical Pact has a particular characteristic: although it is gathering, regrouping and co-opting sectors of the vanguard that were protagonists in the outbreak -where the candidacy of Francia Márquez has strength within several sectors of the mass movement, since she embodies a good part of the demands of women, the territories and the most impoverished sectors-, it is contradictory at the same time, because it contains within it representatives of the bourgeoisie like Armando Benedetti, who was part of the Partido de la U when Uribe was reelected in 2010, or Roy Barreras, who was not only part of the Partido de la U, but also of the Partido Cambio Radical, both markedly pro-Uribe sectors that accompanied the mandates of Uribe and Santos. They are, undoubtedly, part of the genocidal and paramilitary regime, which reflects a policy within the Historical Pact of class conciliation where they pretend to show a favorable face for the businessmen and landowners who have financed these candidacies in the past.

The right wing, in Gustavo Petro’s project, has become an important campaign axis to win the presidency, not only because it tried to make agreements with retrograde and anti-rights sectors of the Evangelical churches seeking the support of Alberto Saade, but also because it is asking Fajardo to join the side of the Historical Pact, despite the questioning in terms of corruption, the case of Hidro-Ituango and his closeness to paramilitarism.

The demands raised by the mobilized people and the program of the bourgeoisie and imperialism are irreconcilable. This situation has meant that the Historic Pact lacks a joint program, since the program raised by the people in the popular assemblies implies structural, anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist changes which surely the most right-wing sectors within the coalition do not want to represent. Until today there is no clear program, only candidacies and figures.

The role of revolutionaries

The revolutionary organizations, which fight for a new society that functions in a radical and completely different way from the capitalist system, would be making a gigantic mistake if we do not act in this political moment of the country, presenting our proposals, our program, our project. For us it is more than clear that it is not an option to marginalize ourselves from the political reality we are going through, because it is to leave the field open to reformism and the right wing which, on the other hand, occupy all the space. Although this reality does not conform to our desire, on the contrary, it is necessary to take advantage of it to actively participate in it and to manifest a revolutionary policy to discuss with the sector of society that trusts in the possibilities offered by projects such as the Historic Pact.

Therefore, we propose that the sectors that call themselves leftists and represent the people who took to the streets in this outburst, defend and raise, with class independence, the program and proposals that emerged in the popular assemblies and spaces of struggle, as non-negotiable axes:

That the rich pay for the crisis:

  1. Break with the IMF, the WB and the OECD. No to the payment of the debt. Money for wages, jobs, health, education and housing, not for the Monetary Fund.
  2. To remove the exemptions to big capital and replace it with a progressive and permanent tax on big fortunes, to turn these resources to health, education and work.
  3. General increase of salaries according to the cost of living.
  4. Elimination of VAT on the family basket. Abolition of the tax on salaries.

Against labor precariousness:

  1. Prohibition of dismissals and suspensions. No more precarious work. Down with labor reform.
  2. For a public pension system, no to pension reform and abolition of the AFP.
  3. For an individual minimum wage for the unemployed until formal employment is provided. 
  4. For a guarantee of decent work for all unemployed, contracted by the State or forcing employers to hire new workers and distribute the existing work among all, with a reduction in working hours without a reduction in wages.

Against state terrorism:

  1. Destitution, trial and punishment for the military and police leadership, mayors, governors, judges, prosecutors, those who gave the order or accomplices of the violations of Human Rights and the systematic assassinations in the framework of social protest.
  2. Dismantle the ESMAD now! Impossibility of developing another or any similar repressive body.
  3. Remove the Police from the hands of the Ministry of Defense and the military leadership and make it respond to be a civilian force.
  4. End military criminal justice, the FFMM cannot continue to judge themselves for their crimes and misdemeanors.

For a dignified life for the working class and popular sectors:

  1. Public education, free and at the service of the people at all levels. Reopening of student campuses with biosecurity protocols, vaccination and welfare conditions ensured by the Ministry of Health and Education. To clean up the budget deficit of public universities, guaranteeing free and universal higher education.
  2. For a public, unique and free national health system: To triple the health budget and unify the health system so that it is public, free and universal. Abolish the EPS and Law 100.
  3. For a shock plan to nationalize the main companies and strategic resources of the nation.
  4. Handing over land to peasants and native peoples. Expropriation of landowners, banking institutions and large real estate companies and large landlords to provide decent housing.

For this reason, it is necessary that the revolutionary organizations of Colombia take our place in the spectrum that is opening up in political matters in the country, and propose to call and promote meetings and regroupments with the aim of organizing the leadership that is needed.