Submitted by Daniel Edgart
Almost all of the major social and political opposition movements – including trade union confederations, professors and students, and rural, Indigenous and afro-Colombian communities and regional and national organizations – have affirmed their support of and intention to participation in a national mobilization (‘cacerolazo’) convened for the 21st of January as the next focal point in what has become a state of permanent mobilization and organization.
There is nothing spontaneous, random or “Fabricated in the USA by ‘George Soros’ – ‘National Endowment for Democracy’ – CNN, & Co.” in the mobilizations. No military or police generals graduated from the School of the Americas are going to present president Ivan Duque with an ultimatum to resign ‘or else’.
The protracted and difficult tasks of strategic and day-to-day planning and action, coordination, cooperation, solidarity and mutual support among the many diverse sectors of society is steadily being consolidated and strengthened. The protests are the culmination of many years of bitter experience and ‘lessons’ in politics and power dealt to the plethora of social sectors, movements, communities and political opposition that make up Colombian society by the corrupt, arrogant and servile (to the ‘Gringos’) political leaders, oligarchs and landlords that treat the Congress and the Presidency as their personal property.
A public statement by the Congress of the People describes some of the principle concerns and objectives of the latest call to mobilize:
“Congress of the People: Stop State terrorism and the genocide of social leaders”
“2019 ended with a bittersweet taste. The social and popular indignation that is increasingly evident in almost all sectors of Colombian society is a source of encouragement in the face of the constant abuse of power, corruption and genocidal practices of the government party and its allies of the extreme right, paramilitarism, the drug trafficking apparatus and the military forces, but the inability to stop this machine of death and barbarism cuts deeply.
As a social and political movement, the Congress of the People deplores the level of rot that permeates the ‘institutions’ of the Colombian state, which is now irrevocably compromised and illegitimate, and the degree of cynicism that the officials of the Government of Duque – Uribe flaunt in their response to the demands stemming from the acute social and humanitarian crisis that their acts have caused and aggravated.
The Duque government responded with contemptuous rebukes and insults to the expressions of social protest and rejection in November and December of 2019 – approving a regressive tax reform and seeking to justify the violence and death of young people at the hands of the criminal ESMAD (riot police), whose abolition was one of the core demands of the demonstrations towards the end of 2019 but that the State insists on strengthening.
Now these afflictions and abuses have been compounded by additional scandals, such as the latest series of ‘chuzadas’ (espionage) that the highest military commanders have deployed against the Supreme Court, journalists and opposition political leaders. A situation that was surely known to and endorsed by President Duque himself and his defence minister, who proceeded to cover-up the truth and protect the perpetrators and beneficiaries of this criminal practice, including the Democratic Centre political party (as denounced by Semana Magazine) and Rafael Nieto (identified by Noticias UNO news outlet as the most reactionary wing of ‘Uribism’). Practices that are not new, and that were common during both periods of Álvaro Uribe Vélez’ presidency.
The criminal conduct and lawlessness of the activities carried out by the military reached such a level of flagrancy that an Uribe-associated magistrate of the Supreme Court (a former military officer who was initially appointed to direct the investigation into allegations concerning one of Uribe’s criminal activities, before she was obliged to reclude herself from the case) took it upon herself to lead a raid on the Facatativá military base in Cundinamarca on the 18th of December, where she found that she was one of the people they were spying on.
Undoubtedly, the information provided by the military to the criminal government party is intended to support ongoing criminal actions to defend its top leader Senator Uribe and prevent him spending the rest of his days in prison paying for the disasters inflicted upon millions of Colombians. That information will continue to be protected from disclosure to the public even as it continues to be passed on to the ‘dark forces’ in order to maintain the systematic sequence of murders and the psychological and in many cases physical extermination of social leaders, their social movements and community organizations, and all those who oppose the ruling elites.
It has been proven time and time again, most recently by the research of a group of investigators from the Javeriana University, that paramilitarism has been protected and supported not only by the State and its institutions, but by the most powerful national and foreign corporations and businessmen. The members of the research group ‘State, conflicts and peace’ of the Faculty of Political Science and International Relations of the Javeriana University, shook us with a long list of very well-recognized and powerful people and companies – among which Ecopetrol, Postobón, Argos, Chiquita Brands, Banadex, and Fedegan stand out, among many others – which have been mentioned in the ‘justice and peace’ transitional justice sentences (pursuant to the Agreement with the paramilitaries in 2005) as alleged collaborators of paramilitary groups, responsible for assassinating trade union, social, environmental, community leaders, among many others.
Solidarity with Marcha Patriótica
As if all these tragedies were not enough, 2020 started in an especially brutal way and in less than 11 days 18 social leaders had been killed, four of them women, one of them an ex-combatant and a signatory of the peace agreement between the FARC and the Colombian State. Five of the people killed were members of the social and political movement Marcha Patriótica, a particularly important social expression and manifestation in the territories that have been suffering a real genocide. Between 8 September 2011 and 11 January 2020, 222 comrades of the Marcha Patriótica have been assassinated, 43 of them during the Duque government period, and 52 of the murders occurred after the IACHR granted precautionary measures to this allied political movement.
We request as a Congress of the Peoples that the entirety of the social and popular movement, that all of the genuinely democratic political parties and social processes, in the first instance commit ourselves to denouncing this serious humanitarian crisis and condemning the Colombian State as a practitioner of State Terrorism. And in the second instance, to go out into the streets to protest in the series of mobilizations that will begin this 21st of January, and that we hope to extend for as long as is necessary to pressure this murderous and corrupt oligarchy to leave power so that we can make the transformations that a humane, just and democratic society demands.”
National Commission of Human Rights
Congress of the People of Colombia (Congreso de los Pueblos de Colombia)
Original title in Spanish: “Colombia. Congreso de los Pueblos: Que pare el terrorismo de Estado y el genocidio de los líderes sociales”, Republished at Resumen Latinoamericano, 15 January 2020