This writing presents an analysis of the general socio-political situation in Colombia for the beginning of 2021. For this purpose, it investigates phenomena such as the local impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis, the national political situation and An analysis of the protests and social struggles of the year 2020 is developed.
Local impact of the pandemic
As in the rest of the planet, the general situation of the State was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. In terms of public health, by December 31, 2020, there were 16,314 daily cases of the new coronavirus in the country, with an average of 11,858 cases in the last week of the year. At the same time, there was a cumulative 1,642,775 cases registered up to that date, for which there were 1,508,419 recovered persons and 134,356 active cases. At that same time, there were 304 daily deaths from SARS-COVID 2, with an average of 251 average deaths in the last week of December, and the terrible accumulated figure of 43,213 deaths in total due to the pandemic. The month of December represented a new increase in infections, in what was beginning to be the dramatic second wave of the pandemic in the country,
According to the Pan American Health Organization, the country reached a national incidence rate for December 29 of that year of 3,205 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a mortality rate of 846.1 deaths per million inhabitants and 3.3. % of fatality, as well as the low rate of hospitalization of 1.9 per total of cases and 0.2 of admissions per cases to intensive care units (ICU). The pandemic hit all sectors of the population extensively, with a gender bias towards men, but it was the group of people over 60 years of age that registered 18.3% of serious cases and 77.5% of deaths, as well as those over 50 years of age represented 72.6% of the hospitalized people and 81.4% of those referred to the ICU.
In terms of incidence of cases, the proportionally most affected regions were Bogotá, Barranquilla, Quindío, Amazonas and Antioquia, while the highest mortality rates were registered in Amazonas, Barranquilla, Caquetá, Bogotá and Norte de Santander. Probably the most delicate situation occurred precisely in the Amazon region, which was almost twice the national mortality average, where, due to the uncontrolled situation in Brazil, there were several moments of serious health crisis. The situation in Norte de Santander on the border with Venezuela was also delicate. Economic crisis
The health crisis and the measures to combat it, especially the preventive isolation policies implemented at the national level since March 24, generated a deep economic crisis. Thus, productive activity suffered an abrupt fall of -6.8% of GDP in 2020 according to DANE, a figure slightly lower than that estimated by the most pessimistic projections, with the largest retractions in the second and third quarters of the year with decreases of -15.8 % and -8.5% respectively. The country suffered a severe drop in construction activity with a retraction of -27.7%, mining exploitation with -15.7% and commerce, transportation and accommodation with -15.1%, while there was a small increase in agricultural activity with 2.8%, financial with 2.1% and real estate with 1.9%. At the same time, the country registered a low inflation of 1.61% in the year,
As a result of the crisis, the fragile advances of the country in containing poverty in the new millennium, the indicators fell back two decades, reaching 7.3 million new poor and 35% of the population below the poverty line, according to the CEDE. with the addition of 2 million extreme poor and 11% of the population in extreme poverty according to Fedesarrollo. Likewise, there was a massive increase in unemployment of 5.9% points and 2.444,000 new unemployed, which aggravated the structurally high number of unemployed, growing since 2019, which reached 15.9% of the economically active population in 2020 according to DANE , and 18.2% in the 18 main cities, a figure that in the second quarter of the year reached 22% of the population. The highest number of layoffs occurred in branches such as commerce and vehicle repair with a contraction of -5.2% and 473,000 layoffs, artistic and entertainment activities with -11.5% drop and 390.00 layoffs, public administration with 317,000 layoffs and manufacturing industry with 316,000. The situation was especially critical in cities such as Neiva, which reached unemployment rates of 26.1%, Ibagué 25.6% and Cúcuta with 23.7%, with cities such as Bogotá and Medellín at rates of 18.2% and, as usual, unemployment was especially critical for the women and working youth.
On the other hand, this led the country’s external debt, which had been increasing since 2019, to register by December 2020 the figure of 154,968 million dollars according to the Bank of the Republic, which represented 55.7% of the national GDP, and an increase of 11.7% compared to 2019. Of the total of this debt that reaches a new historical maximum, 58% is of public origin and 42% of private origin, an item that has experienced greater growth in the last period. The government warned that in the crisis situation, the debt could reach 70% of GDP. In turn, in the scenario of higher expenditures and lower collection, the government registered a fiscal deficit of 8.9% of GDP according to the Ministry of Finance, which represents around 90 billion pesos, 30% more than projected by the authorities. economic.
In terms of trade balance, the country slightly decreased its trade deficit by 653 million dollars according to DANE, registering US 41,185 million in imports and US 31,056 million in exports, with an imbalance that remains high, with 10,128 million dollars. The item with the greatest drop in imports was fuels and mineral derivatives with a fall of -51.4%. In turn, the important novelty that China registers 24.9% in national imports was presented, which makes the Asian country the main source of purchase in the country, surpassing the United States for the first time, which represented 19.6% of this item.
Despite the deep economic crisis, other local and sectoral phenomena of increased production and circulation of goods and services also occurred in the country. Thus there was an 8% increase in gold exports, and the entry into operation of the Butírica underground gold mine in Antioquia. At the same time as the opening of the first phase of the tunnel of the line in the central mountain range, the main road infrastructure work in recent years. On the other hand, Ecopetrol’s fracking pilot project in Puerto Wilches was advancing after several years of illegal exploration with this destructive method. Finally, there was progress in the Bicentennial Group project for the integration of state-owned companies, initially of banks and similar entities,
The pandemic and the mass crisis especially in the services sector, the growing option for telework, with a growth of more than 400% of this work in the first half of 2020 according to the Ministry of Information Technologies and a number of up to 6 million workers working virtually. This sudden and temporary modality of work, sharpened many of the already present forms of flexible exploitation, in fact extending the hours, tasks and working days. The new situation generated a burden mainly on working women, who increased their tasks and domestic work and unpaid care, up to 3 hours a day according to journalistic surveys.
National political situation
The country started the year with the scandal of the political Ñeñe, when the acts of corruption and vote buying to favor the presidential election of Iván Duque in the 2018 campaign were revealed in the press, led by the cattle rancher and drug trafficker ” Neñe ”Hernández, a former protégé of the country’s economic elite and armed forces, assassinated the previous year in Brazil. Added to this in January was the capture in Venezuela of former congresswoman Aida Merlano, convicted of crimes of electoral corruption, who had escaped from prison. This former representative to the chamber for the Conservative Party, part of the regional and national government coalition, found herself in the midst of a calculated diplomatic impasse that favors her impunity. Both facts reveal electoral fraud practices,
In the presidential cabinet, the two debates on the motion of censure filed by the opposition against the Minister of Defense Carlos Holmes Trujillo, first due to the criminal action of the Police in the repression of the protests of September 9 and 10 and then by the The presence in the country of US troops not authorized by Congress, were stopped by the government coalition, so the oligarchic politician Trujillo reinforced his position as a strong man of the Duque government, spokesman for its most militaristic wing and possible presidential candidate for 2022 , so his death from COVID-19 at the beginning of the new year, left a relative political vacuum in the government. After two years of a mandate with some bureaucratic instability and in the middle of the habitual renovation of the cabinet,
Regarding the political force of the government, the case of the house arrest in August of the senator and former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez, the president’s political boss, ordered by the Supreme Court of Justice for his proven participation in the manipulation and purchase of Witnesses, in the midst of the processes that are followed for training and support for paramilitary groups, generated a major political crisis, which led Uribe to call for a mobilization in support of Uribe with poor results. His release by a judge in October, in a process that shows the clear decision of impunity of the Attorney General’s Office, as well as the decision of the main journalistic companies to support him, gives the government a break,
In parallel, the Duque government partially rebuilt its popularity from its lowest point at the end of 2019 with 23% approval, according to the Invamer pollster. Thus, using the wave of fear and spontaneous solidarity awakened by the pandemic, even reaching positive points in the first four months with 52% acceptance, which then weakened again to reach 31% approval in October 2020. Government unpopularity, no I weaken the political alliance that allows Duque a legislative majority in Congress and regional power, and in fact strengthened the commitment of the business unions of the National Gremial Council with his administration and the pro-government line between the large journalistic companies,
In turn, the Duque government continued with the Uribe strategy, under a progressive and sometimes contradictory rhythm, of dismantling the peace agreements of the Colón Theater between the State and the FARC, with the continuous modification without consultation of the agreement, the breach of the rural and political reform policies, the promotion of legislative reform projects that limit the transitional institutions, the pressure against the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) or the denialist intervention of the conflict in the National Center for Historical Memory.
In terms of human rights, the situation in the country continues to be critical. The murder of social leaders continued and there were 309 murders in 2020, with up to 6 murders per week, and an increase of 61% compared to the first half of 2019 according to Indepaz. Thus, the sad accumulation of 1,055 social activists assassinated since the signing of the peace accords in November 2016 is consolidated. Likewise, 91 massacres with 381 victims were presented according to the same institute, made in a frank increase since 2017, which leaves the year with 7.6 massacres on average per month and a staggering 16 massacres in the month of September, mostly concentrated in Antioquia, Cauca and Nariño. In addition, the forced displacement of 32,000 people was registered in the year according to Codhes,
Regarding the armed conflict, the panorama of fragmentation and reorganization of political violence continues. At this juncture, various armed actors imposed quarantine measures against the pandemic in at least 5 departments. The ELN decreed an armed strike in February in 4 regions and in November in the south of the Cauca department, while the EPL did the same in Catatumbo in February, and the Self-Defense Peasants of Bajo Cauca, known as the Caparrapos, in November. The year also saw the assassinations of Andrés Felipe Venegas “Uriel”, one of the leaders of the Western War Front of the ELN and alias “Caín”, leader of the Caparrapos. The confrontation between the ELN and EPL in Catatumbo, which began in 2018, is declining favorably for the first organization, in part also due to the blows received by the latter by the Armed Forces. The confrontational situation has worsened with the military entry of the Mexican cartels into Colombia, especially the Jalisco and Sinaloa cartels on the southern border of the country.
Connected with the above, the Duque government, in breach of the voluntary substitution agreements contemplated in the peace agreements, reinforced its policy of forced and manual eradication of coca crops, reaching 130,000 hectares intervened in 2020, surpassing the record of 94,000 hectares in 2019 The continuation of the failed war on drugs, prioritized for the country by the Trumpy administration, has not significantly affected the planted area, which is estimated at more than 150,000 hectares and has expanded due to the increase in international and national consumption. .
In parallel, after the national days of protest in November-December 2019 and the subsequent social explosion against police brutality on September 9 and 10, 2020, the government hardened its policies of legal and illegal repression against certain popular youth sectors, especially on the student movement of public universities, the neighborhood movement in instances such as cultural houses and human rights activities, and arrests against political activists amplified by the press were presented at various times of the year.
In the national panorama, the situation of Venezuelan migration stands out, which continues to experience a serious humanitarian crisis. In the country, 1,729,537 migrants from the neighboring country are officially registered for 2020 according to Migración Colombia, which would mean a reduction of 50,000 people and – 2.35% compared to 2019, a decrease in part explained by the closure of borders applied since March and the departure of thousands of people from the country due to the economic crisis. Of this number, only 762,000 and 44% are in regular immigration status, so 967,537 people and 53.9% are without papers. Most of this impoverished population is in Bogotá with 337,000 people, the border departments of Norte de Santander with 187,000 where they represent 11% of the population and La Guajira with 149,000 where it reaches 20%, Atlántico with 160,000 and Antioquia with 156,000. In association with the economic crisis, there is an increase in stigmatization, xenophobia and rejection of migrant women, sponsored by conservative grassroots sectors related to the government.
Protests and social struggles
In terms of popular protests, the anniversaries of the national strike of November 21, 2019 produced 6 days of mobilization, generating what we call in the course of the year, twenty-one. Thus, large mobilizations were presented on October 21, the date on which the CUT called a very limited national strike, which ended up being the most successful intersectoral convocation of the year, with a day of union leadership and which led the Democratic Center to speak of the need to decree the inner commotion. Important also was the day of January 21 with youth and student protagonism and November 19 of union centrality, at the same time that the modest protest of September 21 was presented, and the smaller days of August 21 and November 21.
Likewise, there were large protests led by working youth, against police brutality on September 9 and 10 after the cruel murder of Javier Ordoñez by an agent of the institution on the 8th of that month, a death that due to its impact The media unleashed protests and riots in Bogotá and several municipalities in the metropolitan area of the capital, which resulted in 13 deaths due to police repression, 52 affected Police Immediate Attention Center (CAI) and transport and businesses set on fire. In addition, there were mobilizations and clashes in cities such as Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena, Tunja, Santa Marta and Manizales.
In the labor movement, the strike of the coal workers organized in Sintracarbón of the Cerrejón mining company in La Guajira, owned by the multinational Glencore, lasted for 91 days from August 31 and ended with a relative victory of the wage earners. . The strike at the largest open pit mine in Latin America, developed in defense of the collective agreement and against the reorganization of long work shifts, represents the longest strike in the history of this company. Likewise, the reactivation of the health workers’ protest was very relevant due to the pandemic, which was very active in March and April, and in July the hunger strike of doctors and nurses from the Rosario Pumarejo hospital in Valledupar for payment of back wages.
In other labor conflicts, the camp of the dismissed workers of the Luis Ángel Arango Library in Bogotá, concentrations of SENA workers in May due to job stability, as well as virtual unemployment of state teachers in August and October were presented. There were also protests by oil workers against the privatization plans of the subsidiaries of Ecopetrol and workers from Palmagro due to union persecution in Cesar in November. Likewise, work stoppages and small marches were organized by outsourced workers of digital application distributors, especially Rappi, in the months of August and October, in line with the days of protest called internationally.
In the peasant movement the mobilization days of the potato growers of the Cundiboyacense highlands were presented, who on November 13 protested in different regions and made donations of products on roads and cities. Likewise, the resistance of border communities against the forced eradication of coca crops continues, violating the provisions of the peace agreement, whose repression led to the assassination by the Army of two peasants in May in Sardinata and Tutumito, and in November in Taraza.
In the indigenous movement, the central event was marked by the mobilization of the indigenous minga of the south west, led by the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC) that first arrived in the city of Cali and then to Bogotá on October 18, in order to pressure the government to negotiate directly on the complex situation in Cauca. The minga, continually harassed by the right wing, held two large marches in the capital, a massive camp in the sports palace, a symbolic trial against the government and later called protests in front of the El Dorado airport. There were also indigenous and black community protests, blocking roads in Choco in October.
In the student movement there were mobilizations for free tuition at public universities that led to hunger strikes carried out by activists at the Industrial University of Santander, Antioquia and the South of Colombia. There were also unsuccessful hunger strikes at the Bogotá and Medellín National University and the Pedagogical University. On the other hand, youth sectors called mobilizations on June 15 against the crisis situation, with little reception.
In the women’s movement, great days of urban mobilization were presented on March 8, International Day of Working Women and on November 25, day of the elimination of gender violence, as well as the growing importation of dispersed concentrations of the 28 of September for the right to abortion. Also important were the rallies against sexual abuse committed against girls by members of the Army in July and the protests against police abuse on October 1. In the field of sexual and gender dissidents there was a greater disarticulation, but the march of trans pride in July and the participation of certain sectors in feminist mobilizations were relevant.
In the environmental movement, urban concentrations were presented on September 25 for the global day of action called by the platform on Friday for the Future and on December 11 in the global action against fracking. At the regional level in the country that continues to have the highest rates of murders of environmental defenders in the world, the mobilization of fisher women and peasant women against the Hidroituango hydroelectric project in August, the protests in Jericó, Antioquia, against the mining project of copper Quebradona in September, the mobilizations in Puerto Wilches against the fracking pilot in December, as well as the protests in defense of the El Burrito wetlands in January and Juan Amarillo in November in Bogotá and for the El Chaparro wetland in Neiva.
Among the population deprived of liberty, protests have been presented in prisons since the beginning of the pandemic. In the middle of a day of protest, the massacre of March 21, centered in La Modelo, was presented, which left at least 24 detainees dead and 107 wounded, the largest repression against the prison population registered so far in the pandemic context in the continent. Then there were new days of protest on April 15 with hunger strikes to make effective the promise of criminal decongestion with sequences in Ibagué and Cúcuta, as well as the national day of protest on September 28 and the hunger strikes of inmates in Combita , La Dorada and Pereira demanding the reestablishment of visits and bio security measures.
In other social sectors, there was a partial business strike of taxi drivers on November 24 and 25 against the applications that outsource private cars and a trucker strike in Choco to extend loading hours.
Understanding the critical juncture of 2020 marks some of the current socio-political trends, on which organized anarchists and popular movements must act.
Up those who fight!
Libertarian Group Via Libre
Related Link: https://grupovialibre.org/2021/04/03/analisis-de-coyuntura-de-colombia-para-2021/