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.

Interview with Diego Escobar, a Colombian Trade Unionist, a local representative of ASONAL-Judicial. Diego knows very well what it means to be persecuted by the vicious Colombian ruling class. We interviewed him while he was attending the UNISON Delegate Conference 2004.

On September 16, there was a massive general strike of Colombian workers and peasants. Below is an interview with Javier Correa, president of the National Union of Food Industry Workers of Columbia (SINALTRAINAL), while he was on a speaking tour of Europe. He is appealing for the solidarity of workers and youth in other countries with his union’s struggle against the Colombian government’s brutal campaign of repression and to seek justice for the murders of trade unionists in the company in which he works: Coca Cola. (Interview by the Asturian supporters of El Militantein Spain, September 26, 2002). The original Spanish text is available

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"When the peacemakers aim their guns, of course they shoot to pacify, and sometimes they pacify two birds in one shot." (Mario Benedeti, Ode to pacification)