Colombia

Since November 21, people have mobilised across Colombia to reject President Iván Duque’s anti-people and neoliberal policies.

On November 27, hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, workers and members of feminist, human rights, Indigenous, peasant and social organisations as well as trade unions, participated in mobilisations across the country.

In the capital Bogotá, huge numbers of people gathered at the National Park and marched to the Plaza de Bolívar, to reject the national government’s austerity measures and the heavy police repression of social protests.

A new phase of armed conflict in Colombia has emerged with the declaration by some former leaders of the FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — People’s Army) that they are reorganising and rearming as an insurgent force, writes James Jordan.

Australian-based solidarity group United for Colombia released the following appeal on August 3 in response to continuing human rights violations in Colombia.

The Trump administration’s now completely overt effort to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro had a very successful public relations effort this week, as major Western media outlets uniformly echoed its simplistic, pre-packaged claim that the Venezuelan government was heartlessly withholding foreign aid:

The cameras are focused on the border between Venezuela and Colombia. Everything has been prepared to present it as a door about to give in. It is just a matter of waiting for the right day, according to some presidents and news headlines.

The narrative of “imminence” has been key since Venezuelan opposition politician Juan Guaidó proclaimed himself president last month: the imminent fall of President Nicolás Maduro, imminent transition government and imminent resolution of all of Venezuela’s problems.

In 2008, the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations published a report titled US-Latin America Relations: A New Direction for a New Reality. Timed to influence the foreign policy agenda of the next US administration, the report asserted: “the era of the US as the dominant influence in Latin America is over.”

Then, at the Summit of the Americas the next year, then-president Barack Obama promised Latin American leaders a “new era” of “equal partnership” and “mutual respect”.

Business owners in northwest Colombia are conspiring with death squads to assassinate social leaders and prevent the restitution of land that was stolen during Colombia’s decades-long armed conflict, according to several Colombian NGOs.

Ivan Duque has not even taken office and his government is already in crisis after the president-elect’s political patron, former president Alvaro Uribe, resigned from Congress.

Candlelight vigils were held in Colombia and cities around world on July 6 to demand an end to the political violence that since January has cost the lives of more than 125 social leaders in the South American country.

Political violence against social activists has risen in recent years despite the signing of a peace accord between the government and the leftist guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). According to Colombia’s Ombudsman, more than 311 political murders have been registered since the accords were signed in November 2016.

Colombia’s authorities seem unable or uninterested in curbing the wholesale slaughter of the country’s social leaders that has occurred since a peace process came into force, with nine leaders being murdered in the last week of June alone.

The violence is threatening Colombia’s peace process that not only sought the demobilisation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), but also the increased political inclusion of the left and minorities in general.

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