Colombia

"We are facing one of the greatest challenges in our history," said Iván Duque on Sunday, 15 March referring to the health alarm the country is facing due to the increase in cases of people infected with the COVID-19 virus. The disease, already declared as a pandemic by the WHO, has crossed the ocean and surpassed our borders to settle in Colombian lands.

In this article for America Socialista (published 17 January), Jorge Martin looks back on the tremendous ‘Red October’ that swept Latin America last year, with insurrectionary movements in one country after another. Where did these eruptions come from? What were their limitations? What lessons were learned? And what is the perspective going forward?

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.