OCTOBER 15, 2013: International Day of Solidarity with the Colombian People’s Peace Process. In the United States, we are calling for a Week of Solidarity with Colombia October 13 – 20.
The following Call to Action has been issued by FENSUAGRO and Lazos de Dignidad (Links of Dignity) and is endorsed by the Comite Permanente en Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (CPDH – Permanent Committee in Defense of Human Rights) and the Marcha Patriótica. FENSUAGRO is Colombia’s largest agricultural workers union; Lazos de Dignidad is a leading organization advocating for the country’s political prisoners; CPDH is one of Colombia’s most important human rights groups; the Marcha Patriótica is Colombia’s largest coalition of Left groups demanding a just peace with popular participation.
Now is the time for all the world to take the firm decision to unite with our Colombian sisters and brothers and to join with them to demand the fulfillment of the negotiated settlement to the social, political and armed conflict that has bled the country for more than 50 years. October 15, 2013, is the opportunity to express our real commitment and solidarity with the brave people who resist the blows of the dominant classes and world imperialism. Historically, in Colombia this been a day to demand the liberty and establishment of justice for all the thousands of political prisoners who remain hostage in the dungeons of the regime and in other latitudes of the globe. This year, while we think and act to see liberty materialized and the establishment of tangible justice for all the political prisoners, we make an energetic call to all people, to all popular and social organizations, to the political parties of all the hemispheres of the world that we organize and participate in this October 15 International Day of Solidarity with the Peace Process in Colombia that is underway between the National Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP).
We must remember this October 15th in all the corners of the planet, that wherever it might be possible that acts of solidarity be realized in support of the process of dialogue that is moving forward between the National Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP. This must emerge as our primary task. From the deepest recesses of our souls we make this call so that a people that has not counted in its history one single day of peace might obtain the so longed for peace with social justice of which they dream.
We are in solidarity with the just demands of thousands of Colombian women and men, farmers, students, workers, victims of the State, Afro-descendents, Euro-descendents, Indigenous and Mestizos who advocate:
For a country in peace with social justice for all Colombians.
For popular participation at the negotiating table.
For a bilateral cease-fire so that the peace process can unfold without hurdles and set-backs.
For the installation of a real agrarian reform that permits rural development and the establishment of Peasant Reserve Zones.
For the end of the stigmatization and persecution of the social and popular movement in Colombia.
For the end of Plan Colombia and all international military aid, especially the interference of the United States in Colombia’s political affairs.
For the suspension of the Free Trade Agreements between Colombia and the United States, Canada and the European Union.
After 50 years, the social, economic, political and armed conflict that Colombia lives with is the world’s longest major war. The armed conflict is the product of the profound social, economic and political conflicts, and has as its genesis the tenure of the land and the irrational exploitation of the natural resources that are so abundant in this South American nation, but which are concentrated in the hands of a few. In Colombia to be a member of a union or a defender of the peoples’ rights constitutes a grave crime so that these are persecuted by the combined institutions of the State. Colombia sadly holds first place in the world for the number of unionist who are murdered. Equally, it is the country with the highest number of persons displaced by war, some six million souls, increasing the numbers of those who must beg for sustenance at the traffic lights of the big cities, increasing as well the percentages of those encircled by misery in Colombia’s urban areas. Because of the immense variety and richness in natural resources, and by its geopolitical location, Colombia possesses a transcendent importance for the stability of the region. For her, this has meant the flowering of special interests on the part of the world powers, who desire to dominate the region politically and economically. But also reflected is the hope of the Latin American nations to build and consolidate peace and continental unity, since they understand the links of sisterhood that unite them in this time. Although a South American nation has not materialized its definite independence and peace with social justice, neither will [the South American peoples] be able to withstand the threat of imperialism.
Not everyone in Colombia wants the materialization of peace with social justice. Within the country, the extreme Right, led by the Ex-President Alvaro Üribe, generates constant attacks on the peace process that is progressing in Havana, Cuba, between the government and the FARC-EP, in order to achieve in this way the end of the dialogues that are intended to end the conflict. On the other hand, international corporations and multinational businesses in league with the Colombian oligarchy, feeling that its riches are seen to be threatened by the process of dialogue, are increasing the repression and the displacement in the regions of the country in order to in this way consolidate their neoliberal project. Last year the indexes of displacement grew by 83%, and likewise attacks against rural workers and human rights defenders has dramatically climbed to the highest percentage in ten years. The government of President Juan Manuel Santos and all the institutions of the State look for the establishment of the Pax Romana: the silencing of weapons without profound institutional changes. In place of dialogue for peace with the insurgents of the FARC-EP, the Colombian State has increased the hostilities and the violence against the population, as evidenced by the indiscriminate attacks against the farming families of the Catatumbo region, the indiscriminate military offensive against the people in the midst of the National Agrarian and Popular Strike which took place in all the national territory, and the deployment of 50,000 military troops in the streets of Bogotá, all of which reveal the fascist policies of the regime.
The Marcha Patriótica (Patriotic March) is the political and social movement for peace with justice that seeks to win power for the impoverished majorities of the country. Its members are targets for repression and extermination by State and paramilitary organizations. They are publicly stigmatized and slandered by the high functionaries of the government, who see in this movement the ascent of the nation’s mass struggles. Class-conscious unions such as the FECODE teachers union and FENSUAGRO, the largest federation of peasants and agricultural workers, and a member of the Marcha Patriótica, live in an atmosphere of threats, disappearances, arbitrary detentions and assassinations, solely for defending peace and social, political and labor rights.
The arrest of the valiant popular and peasant leader Hubert de Jesús Ballesteros is a matter of special concern and is due to the implementation by Colombian State of the persecution of the social and popular movements. Hubert de Jesús Ballesteros is the Vice President of FENSUAGRO, member of the Executive Council of the CUT (Unified Workers Center—Colombia’s largest labor federation), one of the principal organizers and spokespersons for the dialogue with the government on behalf of the National Agrarian and Popular Strike, and member of the National Directorate of the social and political movement, the Marcha Patriótica. October 15th will be a special date since we will raise our voices to the world to demand his immediate freedom.
This violence and repression of the Santos administration, financed by the US Plan Colombia and by other international allies (like NATO), shows that there is no interest in seeing the process of dialogue arrive at the door of those Colombians who yearn for peace with social justice. The longings [of Santos, the oligarchy and their international supporters] are reflected in their egotistical and greedy desires to increase their economic profit, which they translate into the reality of more violence, repression, displacement and murders for the impoverished classes of the country.
Peoples of the world, it is time to show that not all the international community supports the violent regime of Juan Manuel Santos and its imperialist allies. The politics of war, extermination, repression and free trade have damaged all of us, and we must resist them as a global community. We stand with the people who express themselves against this kind of development, development that only favors the interests of the most wealthy. We share a vision of a Colombia in peace, a Colombia by and for the people, a Colombia in peace with social justice. To materialize the dreams of the common people in Colombia signifies a step toward achieving a different world.
October 15th we have to show support and solidarity that reaches all the world. We are going to show that we, the people of the world, whatever our social or economic conditions or ethnicities, are against all the attacks against the peace process and that we support the Colombian people. No more war in Colombia! The people of the world cry out that the hour has already come for peace with social justice!
Lazos de Dignidad
Comité Permanente de Derechos Humanos
International Network in Solidarity with the Colombian Political Prisoners (INSPP)
International Action Center
Pastors for Peace
Latin America Solidarity Coalition
Alliance for Global Justice