Colombia

The situation in Colombia is advancing very rapidly after the national strike on 21 November. What was a one-day strike became a permanent and daily protest that is already a week old. The protest did not stop, despite the curfew and militarisation decreed in the capital Bogotá (and in Cali) by the reactionary Duque government. The death of the young Dilan Cruz, who was shot by a tear gas canister directly in the head by ESMAD (Mobile Anti-Riot Squadron) has shocked the country. In response, the National Strike Committee decided to call for a new national strike on 27 November and to include among its demands the dismantling of ESMAD.

In his latest podcast (recorded 25 November), Jorge Martin provides an update on the recent strike in Colombia, the month-long uprising in Chile, and the struggle against the coup in Bolivia.

On 21 November, a powerful general strike paralysed Colombia. Originally called to reject a package of measures by the right-wing government of Ivan Duque, including a counter reform of the labour laws, a counter reform of pensions and massive cuts in education, it became the focal point for accumulated anger. The strike was the largest the country has seen since 1977 and there were mass demonstrations in every town and city. The government responded with repression and threats. This only served to escalate the situation.

The second round of the presidential election in Colombia on 17 June delivered a victory for the right-wing, reactionary candidate, Ivan Duque (backed from behind-the-scenes by former-president, Alvaro Uribe), who received 54 percent of the vote (10m votes). However this was the first time in history that a candidate attacked by the ruling class as a dangerous “Communist”, Gustavo Petro, made it to the second round, and he received a very respectable 42 percent (8m votes).

On Sunday, October 2, Colombian voters rejected the agreement between the government and the FARC guerrillas “for the end of the conflict and the building of a stable and lasting peace.” Jorge Martín explains the process leading up to the referendum and what this will mean for the future of the class struggle in Colombia.

A powerful general strike took place in Colombia yesterday, involving half a million workers with rallies ion more than 40 cities around the country. The regime is facing growing opposition in spite of the brutal methods that it uses to crush any form of militancy.

Yesterday we reported on the repression of the indigenous in Colombia and the strike wave of workers in the juridical and sugar cane sectors. Today, we have received reports of further repression and a call for a national strike on 23 October against the state of emergency. We call for solidarity with the Colombian workers and peasants that are facing repression.

We have received news of a stand-off between the Colombian police and a 9,000 strong assembly of workers and peasants in Colombia in the region of Cauca. The workers and peasants are in grave danger as the state is moving in to dislodge them from the Pan-American highway that they have blockaded in the South-West of the country.

In spite of the heroism of the guerrilla fighters, what they have lacked is an understanding of the role of the working class in the process of socialist revolution. What is required is a party based on the working class in the cities that can lead the peasantry. In this struggle the guerrillas would still have a role but as auxiliary to the working class, not as its substitute.

We start today a three part article, written in June, which looks at how the various guerrilla organisations emerged in Colombia. The bourgeois media present them as merely a bunch of criminals, conveniently ignoring the fact that they arose historically as an answer to the brutal repressive Colombian state at the service of the local oligarchy and imperialism.

The death of Manuel Marulanda, the legendary leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), reopens a debate over the perspectives for the FARC and for the class struggle in Colombia. In recent months the FARC has received hard blows with the assassination of two of its principal leaders, Raul Reyes and Ivan Rios, numbers 2 and 4 respectively in the leadership of the organisation. Nevertheless, the FARC still control a good part of Colombian territory (mainly in the jungles) and maintain an active presence with more than 15,000 combatants.

The assassination of Raúl Reyes and 18 other FARC guerrillas exposes the real intentions of the Colombian state and the US government. With this massacre, the Uribe government and American imperialism aim to derail the negotiations over the release of hostages and thus deny any peace in Colombia, and at the same time prepare for more acts of aggression against the unfolding revolution in Venezuela and Ecuador.

Ramon Samblas interviewed Juan Carlos Galvis from SINALTRAINAL, the Colombian food processing and beverages trade union. Juan Carlos spoke today at one of the recent G8 Alternative meetings.

A vicious attack on the Peace Community in San Jose de Apartado left 8 people dead, including women and children. Witnesses reported that armed men who identified themselves as part of the 11th Brigade of the Colombian army were involved. The brutal actions of the army, and the government's denial of any involvment has led many to demand an enquiry into the matter. It is clear, no matter the outcome of any investigation, that the workers and peasants of Colombia can only rely on themselves for defence.