On 28 April, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in a nation-wide strike to oppose the neoliberal policies of the Iván Duque government, and his record of violence against social leaders. The government responded with brutal repression.
An atrocity is unfolding in Colombia.
Since he took power, Iván Duque’s regime has been responsible for the targeted killings of scores of Indigenous, Black, social movement, union, and peasant leaders in hundreds of massacres around the country. Over 50 social leaders have been assassinated in 2021 alone.
Now, as a national strike unfolds against the neoliberal “Reforma Tributaria” — a regressive tax reform designed to finance the repayment of Colombia’s foreign debt obligations and maintain its credit rating — that repression has taken a terrifying new turn.
As seen in countless videos shared around the world, Colombian security forces are meeting peaceful protesters with batons and bullets, tear gas and fists, car rammings and indiscriminate force, massacring dozens and injuring hundreds more. Some have reported incidents of torture and sexual abuse at the hands of police.
Although Duque’s government has temporarily delayed the tax reform, the implications of the government response are clear: the people of Colombia are being executed at the altar of austerity by a government that has lost its legitimacy in their eyes.
The Colombian people remain defiant, with hundreds of thousands — led by alliances of workers, peasants, and social movements like PI Member Peoples’ Congress — taking to the streets in response to the vicious escalation by the state. After a devastating year of pandemic, hunger, and gaping inequality, the people of Colombia are uncowed.
Now, amid gunfire, intimidation, and mass murder, they call on the vigilance and solidarity of the world to support them in their struggle for peace, justice and dignity. They demand the immediate demobilization and withdrawal of the military; basic economic and social guarantees for a dignified life; and justice for the victims of the Colombian government’s flagrant human rights abuses.
An SOS has sounded in Colombia. We, members of the Progressive International, call on the world’s progressive forces to answer its call, and hold the Duque government to account in every community, every courthouse, and in every parliament where we work.