Colombia is experiencing today one of the most important days of social protest in recent years; Thousands of people have come out to express their dissatisfaction with the neoliberal and precarious policies of life of the government of Iván Duque. For its part, the State has responded with disproportionality, repression and violence. On May 5, 24 people were reported dead, 381 people were injured, of which 31 had eye injuries and 24 were injured by firearms, 15 people were victims of gender-based violence, 379 people were missing and 1,180 people were detained. Below, we present an analysis of the protest and outline some tasks for the present moment.

Colombia is experiencing today one of the most important days of social protest in recent years; Thousands of people have come out to express their dissatisfaction with the neoliberal and precarious policies of life of the government of Iván Duque. For its part, the State has responded with disproportionality, repression and violence. On May 5, 24 people were reported dead, 381 people were injured, of which 31 had eye injuries and 24 were injured by firearms, 15 people were victims of gender-based violence, 379 people were missing and 1180 people were detained. Below, we present an analysis of the protest and outline some tasks for the present moment.

The Sustainable Solidarity Law and the political context in which it occurs

Last April, the three trade union centrals of the country (CUT, CGT, CTC) and some social organizations made a general call for strike and national mobilization for April 28, calling mainly the opposition to the third tax reform filed by the government of the uribista and ultra-rightist, Iván Duque, in the Congress of the Republic. The reform, according to its co-author, the now former Minister of Finance Alberto Carrasquilla, sought to raise 35 billion pesos to compensate for the alleged budget crisis of the State, maintaining the line of neoliberal economic adjustment of the current government, now within the framework of the reduction of the GDP, rising public debt, rising unemployment, and deepening inequality and poverty triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Likewise, the tax reform, euphemistically called the Sustainable Solidarity Law, was established in Congress in the context of a weak and increasingly unpopular government that, despite having a majority in the legislative branch, receives rejection of the reform by part of most political parties, left and right, including the same ruling party, for convenience, the far-right Democratic Center. Most sectors rejected the reform, as it sought to collect resources for the State through indirect regressive taxes on products of the family basket, the increase in the income tax rate and the expansion of the base of people they pay it, and the elimination of tax benefits such as subsidies for public services. The above, its main effect would be to deepen inequality and hunger in the country, financially suffocating the middle class and the working and popular classes. Hence, the reform was also opposed by a sector of businessmen, who do not believe it is feasible to obtain resources from working families in the midst of a health and economic crisis.

However, the day of mobilization and strike was convened in a context of popular discontent with the government of the day, previously expressed in November 2019 through the National Strike of November 21 and subsequent days, as well as through the demonstrations in against the police brutality of September 2020 in the face of the murder of the lawyer Javier Ordóñez in a CAI in Bogotá, the rape of women by the police and, in general, the abuses by this repressive body. In addition, it arises in the midst of a context of small struggles of women workers against layoffs and working conditions during the pandemic (for example, health workers, mining, delivery services, construction, etc.), and of demonstrations and blockades of informal and unemployed workers who, due to the mobility restrictions imposed to contain COVID-19, do not have income guarantees to cover rent and food expenses. Finally, the call for a strike occurs in an authoritarian political environment, in which political participation is limited by violence, persecution, and the assassinations of multiple political-social actors who advocate for the defense of the territory, the Agreement of Peace, and the environment, as is the case of human rights defenders, peasant, black, and indigenous leaders, trade unionists, environmentalists, and civil and community leaders. At the same time, ex-combatants of the FARC guerrilla have been exterminated before a State that is complicit by action or omission.

Unemployment of 28A and Mobilization Days

On April 28, thousands of people demonstrated in the streets of the country’s main cities, as well as less populated municipalities and rural areas, responding to the call made by the central unions. The massive mobilization in cities such as Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, Pereira, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cúcuta, Manizales, Villavicencio, Neiva, Tunja, Cartagena, Popayán, Pasto, among others, was carried out by thousands of people who demonstrated in the streets and they blocked inter-municipal highways and urban roads. The day was marked by expressions of discontent such as cacerolazos at night, clashes with the police, looting, and the collapse by the Misak indigenous people of the statue of the Spanish conqueror, Sebastián de Belalcázar, in Cali. In addition to being multitudinous, the mobilization was widely welcomed throughout the Colombian territory, with the participation of the populations in Turbo, Pitalito, Cáqueza, Guayabetal, Chipaque, Duitama and Sogamoso being important; rural areas of Cundinamarca such as Samacá, Marinilla, Betania and Hispania, bordering Bogotá, municipalities close to Cali such as Palmira, and municipalities close to Ocaña in the Catatumbo region; and sparsely populated departments such as Casanare, Vaupés, Amazonas and Arauca, which also joined the movement. and municipalities near Ocaña in the Catatumbo region; and sparsely populated departments such as Casanare, Vaupés, Amazonas and Arauca, which also joined the movement. and municipalities near Ocaña in the Catatumbo region; and sparsely populated departments such as Casanare, Vaupés, Amazonas and Arauca, which also joined the movement.

The main demand of the demonstrations was the withdrawal of the tax reform bill from Congress, however, there was also notable discontent with the current government, nonconformity with the handling of the pandemic, and complaints regarding the situation of hunger and poverty. of the bulk of the population. It should be noted that both the local and national authorities tried to contain the protest, declaring curfews in the cities (for example in Cali and Medellín), militarizing certain cities, and with attempts to prohibit the protest due to the possibility of contagion. of COVID-19, despite calls from organizers to adopt biosecurity measures. Additionally, it is worth noting the efforts of the national authorities to demobilize the protesters by criminalizing the protest, pointing out those who participate in it as vandals and persecuting students and young people in order to falsely incriminate. The hegemonic media contributed to the stigmatization by reproducing official narratives, focusing their coverage on the impacts of the mobilization on the health situation, and partially ignoring abuses by the police and military forces such as the intentional dispersal of concentrations of protesters, arbitrary arrests, or the death of a young man in Neiva due to the actions of the police.

After the end of the day on April 28, the strike and mobilization efforts continued the following days despite the repressive response of the State and the stubbornness of the government of Iván Duque. On April 29, cities in Valle de Cauca such as Cali and Palmira, among others, witnessed large popular demonstrations of disagreement with the government, as well as more moderate demonstrations in the southwestern part of the country and the larger cities. The reaction of the Valle del Cauca population to the curfew was received with great repression, taking place during that and the following nights massacres by the police with some young people killed as a result, and reports of abuses of all kinds, from beatings, assaults and arbitrary arrests, even indiscriminate shooting with firearms, torture,

On April 30, mobilizations, blockades, cacerolazos, and expressions of nonconformity were reactivated throughout the Colombian territory, mainly carried out by young Protestants. Similarly, a momentous event was the blockade of the port of Buenaventura, the most important port in the country, which has witnessed large mobilizations in recent years, including the civic strike at the beginning of this year. On the first of May, International Day of Women Workers, the protest gained greater force, with mobilizations, sit-ins, and strikes, in all the largest cities of the country (Bogotá, Cali, Pasto, Popayán, Cúcuta, Pereira, Manizales, Bucaramanga, Barranquilla, and Manizales). In addition, there were agitated protests near the president’s residence in northern Bogotá, and blockades. Finally, the day ended in a brutal repression like the previous nights; becoming a terrorist strategy to control popular discontent.

On May 2, the great movement continued and the city of Cali received the indigenous Minga of Cauca, who declared Minga out and joined the mobilization. That same day, as a result of pressure exerted by the people, the Duque government announced the withdrawal of the tax reform bill in Congress. However, the social sectors that participate in the strike: women workers, students, certain social organizations and ordinary people have declared that they remain unemployed due to the health reform in process, as well as because of state repression, and in opposition to the government and uribismo. Finally, to close this account of some important events of this wave of protests in Colombia, on May 3 taxi drivers and truckers carried out a partial strike in Bogotá, Medellín, and Barranquilla blocking roads and highways; the students gradually became unemployed in the departments and faculties of their universities, public or private, and, to a lesser extent, in some public schools; and, the mobilization continued in cities such as Neiva, Bucaramanga, Bogotá, Cúcuta, Valledupar, Barranquilla, Barrancabermeja, Villavicencio, and many municipalities of Valle del Cauca. Likewise, that same day the Minister of Finance presented his resignation to the president, who in the evening requested “military assistance” to contain the protests, while the critical situation in the country acquired great international visibility. The mobilization continued in cities such as Neiva, Bucaramanga, Bogotá, Cúcuta, Valledupar, Barranquilla, Barrancabermeja, Villavicencio, and many municipalities in Valle del Cauca. Likewise, that same day the Minister of Finance presented his resignation to the president, who in the evening requested “military assistance” to contain the protests, while the critical situation in the country acquired great international visibility. The mobilization continued in cities such as Neiva, Bucaramanga, Bogotá, Cúcuta, Valledupar, Barranquilla, Barrancabermeja, Villavicencio, and many municipalities in Valle del Cauca. Likewise, that same day the Minister of Finance presented his resignation to the president, who in the evening requested “military assistance” to contain the protests, while the critical situation in the country acquired great international visibility.

Despite the withdrawal of the Tax Reform, the National Strike remains

From the popular victory of the withdrawal of the neoliberal tax reform, which is partial to the extent that the government of Iván Duque withdraws it conditional on the formulation of a new one based on the “consensus” between the government, the political parties, the social sectors and the so-called “civil society”, several social sectors, still dissatisfied, declared themselves unemployed and undefined mobilization. Discontent, which the withdrawal of the reform could not contain, continued to manifest itself in the streets, mainly in the face of state terrorism that hit, through abuses by the police and military forces, the disarmed and angry population. With the eyes of international actors on the human rights situation, the government did not stop the repression, but, on the contrary, escalated it, constantly justifying himself in what in his authoritarian criteria is “excessive” protest. The actions of the security forces, previously with greater legitimacy in the public debate, have gradually lost the trust that was blindly placed in them. Likewise, the discontent manifested itself in the form of generalized rejection of the government and its neoliberal reform proposals, such as the projected health reform, which by effect would further privatize the already precarious and exclusive Colombian health system.

However, although the mostly spontaneous popular move is effective, there is considerable uncertainty regarding the achievement of the new demands. Parallel to the advance of the sectoral organization around the national conjuncture, the vanguardism on the left presents efforts to instrumentalize the discontent in its favor, and the political parties, in addition to channeling the move towards the electoral, position themselves, together with the businessmen, in his priority turn to negotiate with the government the points of the new tax reform. Said political actors do not take into account the needs and feelings of the popular movement because it is not essential for them in their eagerness to take direction from the State or to position their own slogans on the national agenda. It is imperative, then, to read the reasons behind the nonconformity and, with it,

What’s coming

The budget adjustment is the result of capital in crisis and this, in its urge to get out of it, hits the middle class and, mainly, the working and popular classes to survive. Although the tax reform that Carrasquilla and Duque filed in Congress seemed completely disconnected from reality by ignoring the reality of poverty and precariousness of the population on which it tried to pay taxes through the rise in food prices, and ignoring the counterproduction to the capital behind the impoverishment of the middle and consumer classes, it responds precisely to a reality of submission of the State to the dominant economic interests, freeing them from any tax burden, facilitating the exploitation of women workers through labor flexibility, and opening the way to profit through the precariousness of all areas of people’s lives. The almost non-existent social spending that the government affirms it needs money to maintain is due to its policy of containing poverty through subsidies and, instead of facilitating access to health, education and food for the population, it makes it completely dependent on the capitalist or private company that seeks to monopolize these services. The rejection of the tax reform represents a rejection of the deepening of inequality that, in this case, is expressed in more hunger for the working and popular classes, and less responsibilities for the rich. Faced with this we say: Let the capitalists pay for the crisis! The almost non-existent social spending that the government affirms it needs money to maintain is due to its policy of containing poverty through subsidies and, instead of facilitating access to health, education and food for the population, it makes it completely dependent on the capitalist or private company that seeks to monopolize these services. The rejection of the tax reform represents a rejection of the deepening of inequality that, in this case, is expressed in more hunger for the working and popular classes, and less responsibilities for the rich. Faced with this we say: Let the capitalists pay for the crisis! The almost non-existent social spending that the government affirms it needs money to maintain is due to its policy of containing poverty through subsidies and, instead of facilitating access to health, education and food for the population, it makes it completely dependent on the capitalist or private company that seeks to monopolize these services. The rejection of the tax reform represents a rejection of the deepening of inequality that, in this case, is expressed in more hunger for the working and popular classes, and less responsibilities for the rich. Faced with this we say: Let the capitalists pay for the crisis! It makes it completely dependent on the capitalist or private company that seeks to monopolize these services. The rejection of the tax reform represents a rejection of the deepening of inequality that, in this case, is expressed in more hunger for the working and popular classes, and less responsibilities for the rich. Against this we say: Let the capitalists pay for the crisis! It makes it completely dependent on the capitalist or private company that seeks to monopolize these services. The rejection of the tax reform represents a rejection of the deepening of inequality that, in this case, is expressed in more hunger for the working and popular classes, and less responsibilities for the rich. Faced with this we say: Let the capitalists pay for the crisis!

In this atmosphere of discontent, the task of strengthening the mobilization and the struggles that arise, are activated or reactivated, in this important situation. Our commitment continues to be the creation of a strong people, capable of counteracting the advances of capital and building a socialist, anti-patriarchal, anti-colonial, free and just society. It is time to strengthen the grassroots processes, to organize the non-conforming sectors, to support the mobilization and to nurture it so that important victories emerge from it, either in the form of concessions made by popular pressure and direct action, or in the form of the organization. of the people and ability to fight. The protesters still demand the withdrawal of the health reform, the curb on state violence and the militarization of the territories, a basic income to face the economic crisis, and a life of dignity and peace. In that sense, from the Grupo Libertario Vía Libre we call for the continuation of the mobilization and strike, against uribism and repression, but also against capitalism, patriarchy and colonialism.

The fighting continues!
Up those who fight!

Related Link: https://grupovialibre.org/2021/05/08/comunicado-sobre-el-paro-nacional-y-las-jornadas-de-protesta-en-colombia/




Source: Awsm.nz