The Colombian people achieved a tremendous victory and a historic milestone in their struggle for peace, justice, and the “second independence” from neocolonialism and neoliberalism. The election of President elect Gustavo Petro and Vice-President elect Francia Marquez is not so much the achievement of a savvy politician or a well-oiled political campaign as it was a culmination of years of popular struggle. Petro and Marquez won power because they joined and rode the wave of years of protracted struggles for freedom, that included massive demonstrations for peace, indigenous mingas, and agrarian and national strikes. Those of us from the US and NATO countries who are waging our own battles against Empire and for liberation should pay heed. This victory in Colombia was made possible because, in Colombia, there exists a truly class-conscious and revolutionary Left, a Left that embraced struggles for gender rights and against sexism, the struggles of young people, and the struggles against racism. That Left, despite its own internal divisions, is able to come together in a disciplined and unified fashion when the front lines and goals of struggle are clear. The achievement of the people was preceded by decades of political education, mutual solidarity and connection between different population groups, and a commitment to grass roots struggle in the cities and countryside that, even in the darkest of times, refused to surrender, refused to stop fighting.
Does the election of the Petro/Marquez ticket represent a People’s Revolution and a break with US hegemony and Empire in Colombia? Hardly. But it does represent an unprecedented repudiation of politics as usual, as well as the kind of fraud and violence that has so characterized Colombian elections. We of the Alliance for Global Justice have coordinated and participated in various missions of observation and accompaniment in Colombia, and we have witnessed first hand these perpetual problems. Then 2022 votes on March 13 (congressional elections), May 29 (the first round of presidential elections), and June 19 (the second round), were not exceptions. We heard reports and/or saw examples of irregularities, attempts at fraud, threats, and violence against social leaders and voters. In every case, these assaults on democratic rights came not from the Center-Left, but from Colombia’s Right wing and the political/military establishment. That Petro and Marquez won at all, no matter how slim the margin of victory, was nothing short of a people’s miracle against all the tactics of voter suppression and intimidation.
The Petro/Marquez administration will not likely attempt to make a clean and radical break with the US-NATO Empire, and if it does try to do that, it will be fighting a valiant but uphill battle. Of course, if Colombia has shown us anything, these battles are valid and worthwhile, and can be won, if people are committed to the long-haul. Still, there is strong indication that this election loosens the grip of the Empire. We of AFGJ will continue to ally with Colombians who still struggle for the second independence as we wage our own fight at home against Empire and for popular democracy. Wherever we work in international solidarity, our commitments are not to governments or parties, not even the best of them, nor do we deign to tell other nations’ popular movements how they should achieve their own liberation. But as internationalists engaged in the people’s global fight for freedom,we will always stand by all peoples’ movements and the internationalist struggle for real democracy, socialism, peace, justice, and liberation.
We also note that the struggle for real democracy and for political power is far from over in Colombia. The Petro/Marquez administration does not have a majority of supporters in Congress and will rely on broad coalitions of forces to achieve its goals, none more so than the most powerful political bloc of all–the power of the people engaged in grassroots struggle. President and Vice-President elect Petro and Marquez will face stiff opposition from Colombia’s military, police, and paramilitary establishments, and its economic oligarchy. These segments, in alliance with the US-NATO Empire, will do all they can to either defeat every popular initiatives of the new government, or push the new administration to betray the people in favor of the traditional powers-that-be. That must not be allowed to happen.
To the people of Colombia and to the US, we of the Alliance for Global Justice promise the following:
1) We will continue to expose and oppose US attempts to undermine and/or coopt the people’s chosen government of Gustavo Petro and Francia Marquez;
2) We renew our commitment to the 2016 Peace Accord, and will put pressure on the US government to lend its complete support to that accord, beginning with the repatriation of the Prisoner of Empire and negotiator for peace, Simón Trinidad, of the former FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army);.
3) We will stand side by side with our Colombian comrades in the struggle for peace and justice both in Colombia and regionally, including that we will continue to oppose the use of Colombia as a launching pad for interference in Venezuela and other popular governments;
4) We will keep listening to grass roots movements in the streets and rural areas of Colombia, lending our solidarity and building bridges between these movement and our own;
5) We will continue to demand an end to the spread of the US security model (more prisons, militarized borders, militarized police) in Colombia and elsewhere, and will maintain our call for the Colombian government to stop helping spread this anti-people model, and we note with enthusiasm and joy that President-elect Petro has promised to dismantle the hated US funded and advised ESMAD riot police;
6) We will continue to oppose US military and security aid to Colombia, and demand the closure of US military bases in the country, even under a Petro/Marquez government, because we know that aid is not in the interests of the Colombian people but is meant to create dependency and maintain Colombia as a US military colony and vital partner in Empire;
7) We will continue to struggle for the complete freedom and independence of Colombia and the birth of a New Colombia, which we see being born even now, especially now.
8) We commit ourselves more than ever to the prospect of revolutionary change in the United States, because changing our own government is the best gift we could possibly offer to Colombia and the rest of the world.