Colombia: A difficult decision: How to vote in the first round?

Next May 29th, the first round of elections for President of Colombia will take place.

Unlike the parliamentary elections of March 13, the presidential election generates greater interest because the Presidency is a bourgeois institution that does not appear as discredited as the Congress; a nest of corrupt politicians with paramilitary ties who legislate against the people in favor of their economic interests and the parties they represent. The discrediting of the Congress led to the fact that on March 13, abstention, blank vote and null vote were the big winners. Not even the vote for the inter-party consultations was able to reverse the low turnout.

We, the workers and popular sectors, must express ourselves again at the polls by rejecting the current candidates and their programs because they do not represent our interests. Real solutions to unemployment, hunger, low wages, decent health care or free and universal education are not contemplated in their programs or are just empty phrases.

Presidential power

The expectation in the presidential election is a reflection of how political power is exercised in Colombia, since the President can govern at the point of decrees. He is the head of an authoritarian regime with a deceptive democratic facade, and a division of powers that allows the corrupt and murderers to act with total impunity. This has been the case with Iván Duque, who took over all the agencies that should control him (Procurator’s Office, Comptroller’s Office, Ombudsman’s Office; among others) and had the parliamentary majorities at his service. It is the Uribist regime imposed twenty years ago and of which all the parties of the economic groups that today support various candidates in their dispute for the presidency have been part of; such as Juan Manuel Santos, brand new Nobel Peace Prize winner, who was Uribe’s Minister of Defense, politically responsible for the “false positives”, and who later succeeded him in the Presidency.

Social upsurge and electoral trap

These elections are taking place in the midst of a new political situation; the one that opened with the massive and vigorous mobilizations of 2019 and deepened with the combative national strike of 2021. The social outburst put on edge the stability of the Duque government who ordered to violently repress the popular nonconformity. We workers must be aware of this in order to prepare the new battles we will have to fight to defend our rights, reconquer others and, above all, impose a definitive solution to the great social ills that affect us.

After the strike was lifted, the government, all the bourgeois parties and the absolute majority of the leadership of the trade union centers and social organizations fear that mobilization and protest will be strengthened again, channeling discontent towards the ballot boxes. But the electoral results expressed, in a distorted manner, the new correlation of forces, with the significant support obtained by the Historical Pact and the growth of its parliamentary bench.

Profits in blood and fire

The wealth accumulated by national businessmen and multinationals is produced by the workers. In Colombia a tiny minority of capitalists and landowners appropriate that wealth, sustain a criminal regime and have controlled the governments for decades, encouraging the most blatant corruption and using paramilitary gangs to keep the population terrorized. The country is at the service of North American, European and Chinese transnationals. The destructive plundering of natural wealth and low wages are the main attraction for national and foreign capitalist investment. To guarantee its profits, Colombia follows the guidelines of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and is part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) -organisms that dictate economic plans. The armed forces are an appendix of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an imperialist military alliance, while our territory is dotted with U.S. military bases.

Constitution and Peace Agreement

Gustavo Petro states that his objective is to defend the 1991 Constitution, agreed between liberals, conservatives and the AD-M-19, which was his party at that time. Now he adds to it the Peace Accord, signed between Santos and the FARC; and, to add adhesions, he raises the need for a “Broad Front” even with sectors of the bourgeoisie condemned for corruption, like Samuel and Ivan Moreno, for whom he asks for “social pardon”. The workers should know that with the Constitution of ’91 the road was opened to dismantle the labor and social rights that we conquered with hard struggles throughout the 20th century. Health and pensions were also privatized, education was commercialized and the land of millions of peasants was allowed to be taken from them by blood and fire, while the power of the drug-trafficking bourgeoisie and the paramilitaries grew and thousands of social leaders were assassinated. The Peace Agreement with the FARC has had as its main objective territorial security for capitalist investments in big mining, hydrocarbons, hydroelectric and extensive agro-industry, while the minimum guarantees for the reinserted have been flouted or they have been persecuted, threatened and assassinated. At the same time, it guarantees impunity for those responsible for the land dispossession of millions of peasants, their forced displacement and the most brutal massacres and violence against the poor population.

Rejecting the candidates of the bourgeoisie

In the first round of the presidential election it is clear that some candidates openly represent the interests of the transnationals, bankers, big businessmen and landowners. In addition, they defend the genocidal Uribist regime. Federico Gutiérrez represents the direct continuity of that regime, supported by the Centro Democrático, the Conservative party, Cambio Radical, the Partido de la U and the Liberal party itself. Sergio Fajardo, of the Centro Esperanza Coalition, has been at the service of the same regional bourgeoisie and co-governed with parapoliticians and drug traffickers. Rodolfo Hernández, who presents himself as “anti-politician”, recognizes that he accumulated his fortune by selling housing to poor families, that is, by profiting from their needs. Ingrid Betancur makes no secret of her willingness to negotiate her support with the candidate representing the right. We workers must reject them all without hesitation.

Do not vote for the “lesser evil”

We workers are the only class that can change society. Those who say that it is necessary to collaborate with the capitalists to have a productive economy, a democratic distribution of wealth and social peace are lying. They are trying to trick us into giving a truce in the struggle we started with the National Strike. Many workers, young fighters, members of indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, feminists, progressive intellectuals or oppressed social sectors see Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez as an electoral alternative. It is regrettable that the Historical Pact betrays them by incorporating into its ranks politicians and corrupt people committed to those who have benefited from the hunger and misery of millions of Colombians.

Others think that it is the “lesser evil” in the face of a possible triumph of Uribism. We respect their opinion, but we consider it wrong. Supporting the “lesser evil” diverts and confuses the working class, the youth and the popular sectors in the struggle against “the greater evil” (the capitalist economic, social and political structure); an evil which the program of the Historical Pact does not confront; since it openly defends an illusory “human capitalism”. The vote for the “lesser evil” will be a “punishment vote” against Uribism, but it will not defeat its criminal regime.

For a revolutionary program that guarantees the welfare of the majorities!

The program put forward by the Historical Pact does not radically modify the real causes of social inequality and violence, nor does it break the chains that tie Colombia to the dictates of the imperialist powers. It is important to analyze it in detail to verify that it is only a list of reforms, most of them impossible to apply without confronting the owners of economic and political power with social mobilization. This mobilization is nowadays stopped by the leaders of the Pact themselves, as we could see in the National Strike, when Petro opposed the blockades and called to “take care of Duque from Uribe”, giving a break to his government, which was murdering and imprisoning the demonstrators. Last April 28 they reiterated this attitude when they disallowed the youth calls to protest, while the union and social leaders organized a languid commemoration of May Day. Now we are paying for this demobilization policy in blood with the increase in threats, murders and displacement of communities. Even the narco-paramilitaries have made a provocative show of force with the armed strike (under the complacent gaze of the Army and Police) as a result of the extradition of “Otoniel”, head of the Gulf Clan; extradition at the service of the cover-up of high-ranking military and politicians who could be denounced by him.

Faced with this electoral panorama, in the first round, Impulso Socialista and the Socialist Workers Group, we call on the workers to express our political independence by voting blank, while raising a revolutionary program that solves the structural problems of society, and we persist in the call to reactivate the unified struggle against the Duque government and the plans of imperialism. To the honest and fighting rank and file of the Historic Pact we invite them to reject the policy of class conciliation of its leadership and to demand the radicalization of its program, breaking with the interests of the monopolies and big businessmen.

For a government of the workers and the poor

In the first round: VOTE BLANK!

For a revolutionary program against capitalism and its barbarism!

To the streets to fight, let us promote a new National Strike!

Freedom for those arrested for the National Strike!

Justice and punishment for the murders and rapes!

Against hunger, unemployment and corruption: no to the payment of the foreign debt! No to the labor and pension reforms of the IMF and the OECD!

Bogotá, 13 de mayo de 2022