Colombia: Congressional Action; Update; and the Great Popular Audience

We at the Alliance for Global Justice want to express our sincerest gratitude to all of you who have acted to support the popular strike in Cali and throughout Colombia during this period of brutal repression. Despite the repression, the biggest story of all is that even with all their US supplied guns and bullets and tear gas cannisters and helicopters firing randomly on the people from overheard, the forces of State-sponsored and paramilitary repression cannot hold back the victories people are achieving in securing their demands. You are very much a part of this. Many of you have given to our fund to support street medics and human rights defenders in Cali. Many of you have responded to the call to write Colombian and international authorities and the White House to demand an end to the repression.

 

We are writing you now to ask you to take action to urge your representative in the U.S. Congress to sign the “Dear Colleague” letter on Colombia that is currently being circulated.

 

AFGJ will continue to report on the struggles in the streets in Cali and throughout Colombia. According to a report released this morning by the Fundación Lazos de Dignidad (Links of Dignity Foundation),

 

INFORMATIVE BULLETIN OF THE FOUNDATION LAZOS DE DIGNIDAD

Having occurred in 16 days of PROTESTS IN COLOMBIA

We share for the national and international public opinion the up-to-the-moment statistics that we have registered in violation of Human Rights:

    • 341 persons who are victims of physical violence. Deeds presumably attributed to members of the public forces.
    • 53 Homicides Presumably attributed to members of the public forces.
    • 1431 cases of arbitrary detentions. We have seen evidenced that the detained persons are not guaranteed their rights, because they have already been victims of physical and verbal violence.
    • 551 persons DISAPPEARED since the beginning of the protests.
    • 423 cases of police repression
    • 29 persons with wounds to their eyes
    • 30 ACTS OF GENDER DIRECTED VIOLENCE
    • 1 POLICE HELD CRIMINALY RESPONSIBLE. We have seen evidenced that the organisms of control and vigilance have been absent whenever excesses of the public forces are denounced.

Finally, we present to you an English translation of the Political Declaration of the Great Popular Audience of Colombia, in which Colombian popular movements and international supporters gave testimony against the aggression occurring against the popular strike, as well as celebrating the victories that have been won:

Political Declaration
Colombia Great Popular Audience

May 13, 2021

From all the corners of our country, in the name of the most diverse expressions of the current social mobilization, since April 28, men and women have decided to take to the streets. Convened in a Great Popular Audience, we want to make known for the national and international public opinion that:

  1. Colombia is facing one of the deepest crises in its history, which has forced the excluded majorities to rise up and demand solutions. The sharp economic recession since 2020, the inundation of poverty that affects more than 21 million compatriots, the destruction of public finances and the greatest inequality in Latin America, are just some of the examples of the daily suffering that we demand be solved with real social policies. The withdrawal of the health reform presented by [President Iván] Duque, the construction of a truly progressive tax reform, the enactment of basic income and an emergency package for the most vulnerable regions and sectors of the population, are urgent measures to seek an exit to this crisis.
  2. We reject the authoritarianism of the present government and its fascist actions. Popular protest cannot be silenced with the massacre that the security forces have carried out, nor with the promotion of paramilitarism represented by the armed civilians against the mobilization. The repression, murder, physical violence, sexual abuse, and criminalization against protestors violate the most elemental democratic principles. We demand that the high military and civil commands assume their responsibility for the crimes committed during the National Strike and open an authentic process of truth, justice, reparation, and non-repetition for the victims. The President must immediately cease the militarization of the cities and the acts of war against the social mobilization. Duque must give the order to stop the death, let the perpetrators be tried, liberate the political prisoners from the strike and clarify the status regarding disappeared persons.
  3. With the great leading role of the youth, the profound national crisis has raised up new and massive sectors of the county to join together in the strike against the economic policies of the present government, of the corruption and the absence of democratic guarantees. The street and the “cacerola”* is the decisive voice of the majorities without voice. The proof of the massive strength and inconformity is the unprecedented powerful triumph to defeat Duque’s tax reform. This is a historic strike that is showing us that the social mobilization works. Despite the repression, this is a potent and victorious strike that overflows to whatever social organization or existing politic, and whose resolution demands the wide participation of the diverse majorities. This is the strike of the people: young people, women, students, workers, unemployed, ethnic and rurual peoples that are victims of this system.
  4. We call on the Colombian people to maintain themselves firmly in our struggle demanding unerring gestures from the national government to resolve the present crisis. We call for building the route of struggle without exclusions to continue obtaining victories to benefit everyone. This people who are resisting and rising up will be the builders of a new reality where the implementation of the Havana Accord may be possible, the peace complete, the health, education, dignified life and work [be] for all. As our beloved Gabo** said on receiving the Nobel prize:

“A new and sweeping utopia of life, where no one can decide for others even how to die, where truthfully love may be sure and happiness may be possible, and where the races condemned to a hundred years of solitude will finally and forever have a second chance on Earth.”

* [people literally and often spontaneously taking to the streets, patios, front yards to beat pots and pans in protest, including when public demonstrations are being prohibited]

** Gabriel García Márquez