in colombia

Gabriela Pinilla, Peasants of Sinú, Book illustration, Digitally colored drawing 2017, Bogotá, Colombia


National strike: checkmate to Uribism

This week, the survey “Polymetrics of figures and concepts” revealed that opinions in favor of Iván Duque increased to 65%. Up to this moment in the government, the Colombian president has seen his image be downgraded twice. The first, after the 2019 mobilizations. This is precisely the time frame that marks the fall of the Uribista model after two decades of presidentialism.

According to the International Narcotics Control Agency, cocaine production in Colombia has doubled in the last five years, accentuating the growth curve of Colombia's main export product. The coffee producing country did not produce this amount of cocaine even in Pablo Escobar's time. The structuring of power in Colombia, that is, the peculiar amalgamation of illegal potentates with the State, even transformed the class structure. For the opposition congresswoman Aida Avella, in Colombia one can no longer speak of a bourgeoisie; the ruling class is linked to drug trafficking, “it is a class of drug traffickers”. The Colombian elite is a caste of the drug trafficking system and paramilitarism is its instrument of coercion for the accumulation of land and the “pacification” of society.

President Iván Duque was a financial lobbyist on Wall Street before being nominated by Uribe for the presidency. The campaign of the candidate elected by the former president was financed with money from drug trafficking, as indicated by the audio intercepted between drug trafficker “Ñeñe” Hernández and the former personal secretary of Álvaro Uribe, known as “Caya” Daza. The scandal known as “ñeñepolítica” began to grow since 2018, like a snowball without any intervention mediated by justice.

The pandemic covered up the looting

In April 2020, the Colombian government asked the IMF for US$11 billion to avert the financial crisis amid the pandemic. In August, the Urib government announced that the Management Committee of the Fund for Mitigation of Emergencies (FOME) authorized the nation's participation in the restructuring of Avianca to guarantee the protection of the provision of air services, financing up to 370 million dollars, as part of the company process according to chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code [Bankruptcy Code] of the United States.

The measure was widely rejected and the credit ended up not being granted. However, the drain on public resources proceeded with equal impudence. In seven months, the Duque government transferred 5 trillion pesos to large private entrepreneurs, with the aim of helping them in the economic crisis. Duque's program, which rejected the basic income initiative, only helped to swell the pockets of millionaires, including the well-known banker Sarmiento Angulo, manager and articulator of the banking network “Grupo Aval”. According to Camilo Enciso, former secretary of transparency for the presidency of the republic between 2014 and 2017, in addition to money from drug trafficking, Duque's presidential campaign was 66% financed by Sarmiento Angulo through Banco de Bogotá, which is also part of the said Group endorsement

In addition to business kleptomania, war expenses are added. After Brazil, Colombia was the second country in Latin America with the highest military spending, with 9,2 billion dollars, according to a report released by the Stockholm International Institute for Peace Studies (SIPRI), and the first country in military spending during the pandemic. As if that were not enough, the government wasted 2 trillion pesos on the purchase of a fleet of armored vans for the presidency and another 9 billion pesos on the acquisition of 23 vans for the National Police. This institution was responsible for the police repression of September 11, 2020. After that massacre, the president supported the terrorist actions of the public force and decided to guarantee its operations with an unusual investment in weapons, trucks and uniforms.

In the midst of draining public resources, and no longer being able to take advantage of the debt, the government decided to advance a tax reform in which the main items of the Colombian basic food basket, such as coffee, sugar, eggs and gasoline, are taxed at 18% . The National Strike Commission, which emerged in the heat of the 2019 mobilizations, undertook an agenda of mobilizations to face the abuse of the Uribista government that began on April 28.

In the previous days, the Colombian government disapproved of the National Strike due to Covid-19, arguing that the fundamental thing was to preserve life.

The government's argument to discredit the strike sounded like a very bad joke. In 2020 alone, the Human Rights Watch recorded 90 massacres. In 2021, Colombia learned that, during Uribe Vélez's government, 6.402 citizens were extrajudicially executed in order to present casualties in the anti-insurgency fight. In addition, 54 social leaders have been assassinated so far this year, and 1.164 since the peace accord was signed in 2016. The three defense ministers of the Duque era bombed camps made up of children and teenagers in areas where armed confrontation with FARC dissidents still persists. Despite everything and against everyone, the Uribista bloc intends to revoke the peace agenda that emerged from the Havana agreements. On the contrary, he intends to relaunch the war, this time against Venezuela.

The ongoing National Strike is the heart of the popular mobilization against the Uribista model. A fatal blow to his tarnished reputation. This is not just about tax reform. This is the cornerstone crisis of the paramilitary/neoliberal model that tends to expand from Colombia to the entire continent. The historical context relaunches the opportunity to break the hegemony of the most bloodthirsty government in continental history, especially in the midst of the most polarized presidential race since the assassination of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán. In this sense, the opposition highlights the violent withdrawal of the parastatal right and places itself at the forefront of the 2022 electoral dispute with left-wing senator Gustavo Petro. However, duchism tries to end the history of uribism with a scorched earth policy.

*Diana Carolina Alfonso is a historian and journalist.

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.

Originally published on the portal nodal.


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