Brief description of what’s happening in Colombia. There are three main points:
- The FARC has reached some critical agreements in peace negotiations which, if actually applied, would create big changes to the political landscape in the country, opening up opportunities for the Left which haven’t existed in over 20 years.
- This past August, the campesinos of Colombia undertook a national strike which shut down highways and resulted in massive demonstrations across the country. Popular support for this movement—which demanded the transformation of the terrible living conditions in the Colombian countryside as a result of neoliberal economic policies and state repression—was very high. The state backtracked on its promises to the agrarian movement, and no solutions have been provided to the problems which spawned the strike in the first place.
- Just a few days ago, the state Attorney General Alejandro Ordóñez, a hardcore right-winger allied to former President Alvaro Uribe, removed left-wing Bogotá mayor Gustavo Petro from office and banned him from public service for 15 years, all because he gave the city’s trash collection services contract to a state company instead of offering it to private corporations.
Petro is a former guerrilla of the M-19, which laid down arms in 1990 but, along with the Unión Patriótica (a legal political movement of the FARC, Communist Party, and others formed in the 80s while the guerrillas were negotiating a peace deal with the government), was politically decimated by paramilitary and state violence against its members. Between 1985-2000, thousands of members of these organizations were murdered, including two presidential candidates of the UP and the M-19’s very popular leader, Carlos Pizarro, who would have probably won the 1990 election. Petro remembers this all too well.
Petro’s removal destabilizes the peace process with the FARC, whose demobilization is based on the conditions that the state provide guarantees of participation and inclusion to popular left-wing forces. The FARC obviously won’t demobilize if the state shows that it will prevent leftists from holding any positions of power, or that it will repress popular mobilizations. There are huge numbers of people rallying in Bogotá’s Bolívar Plaza right now against the mayoral coup, and there are solidarity mobilizations occurring throughout the country.
The United States props up the extraordinarily violent establishment in Colombia. It’s important that we stand with our sisters and brothers in the streets of Bogotá, Barranquilla, Medellín, Bucaramanga, Popoyán, Cúcuta, and elsewhere demanding a new Colombia.