Colombia: Analyzing the Strike from the Peoples’ Congress

Carlos Aznarez

The national strike continues to be a topic of discussion in Colombia and the world. Also the repression and crimes of state terrorism of the government of Ivan Duque. That is why this week the Peoples’ Tribunal condemned the regime for genocide.

To talk about the current situation, we interviewed the leader of the Peoples’ Congress, Jimmy Moreno, who expresses the sentiments of those who are in the daily struggle to transform the country, with social justice and sovereignty.

How is the situation of the national strike? Is the same level of mobilization as last month still taking place?

We are now in the 51st day of the national strike, and the fact of arriving at this moment, clearly shows that the people are sustaining a dynamic of struggle and resistance. The strike has shown us that it has ebbs and flows typical of the struggles of our country. Although some sectors have stated that they are changing tactics, we see that the struggle is getting stronger in cities such as Medellin, Bogota, Pasto, Bucaramanga, we see images of reorganization of the front lines in the strike. In Cali, the exercise of recovering the resistance has begun again. Although many sectors, especially the most organized ones, are following a different logic, because they have other commitments, the people have understood that the strengthening of the national strike is to guarantee that the people’s proposals are won through the heat of the struggle.

In other words, the people continue to comply with the slogan that “the strike does not stop”. And this despite the great repression.

I would like to comment that the conditions have not changed, state terrorism is still strong, repression, persecution, the judicialization of social protest, the practices of the whole genocidal line of the state are still strong. This week the Colombian state has been condemned internationally for this genocide that is ongoing and that has been denounced: all the assassinations of human rights leaders. Moreover, in terms of the conditions, we see the government is not listening, not wanting to negotiate with the sectors interested in sitting down to talk and resolve this conflict. The agenda that is being carried out in the Congress of the Republic sends the message that the people are not being heard and that they will defend financial and political interests. On Wednesday, the Congress of the Republic, disseminates a project to guarantee the “zero tuition” that benefits the student movement that has been demanding resources, budgets, decent education conditions, quality education. Also, the project that protects fracking is disseminated, which the communities have been rejecting for a long time and a mobilization process is being carried out in the regions to defend the water and the ecosystems of strategy. The state does not listen to this, but through the machinery that governs, it benefits these interests. Parallel to this, we are demanding a reform of the justice system. We do not recognize this justice system here because it supports the rich, corruption and the mafia, who are evidently taking advantage of it. The Attorney General’s Office contradicts with the government, the government says that there is no money, that it is necessary to make fiscal adjustment and reform, and Magarita Cabello, in charge of the Attorney General’s Office, talks about making a series of reforms to create jobs, to feed the political electoral machine that is in function of the institutions, not to investigate cases of corruption. A few days ago, the Attorney General’s Office filed 10 thousand cases that were under investigation for corruption, which benefits the sectors that are committed to the extraction of resources. Thus we see that poverty is deepening in the country, the class struggle is intensifying. It is between the oligarchic, criminal and murderous sectors and the people.

Every day we see important dynamics and we believe that the assembly building spirit that is underway in many regions of the country is essential, the people are self-convening, generating processes of their own governments, of construction of popular power. Thus, on the 6th, 7th and 8th of this month we carried out an exercise that we call the National Popular Assembly, to strengthen this perspective that the communities have in which they are saying “We need to move forward and build our own national agenda” and in the perspective of building popular power.

We heard some criticisms, especially in Medellin, from those who are mobilizing, saying that the National Strike Committee was pulling back the mobilizations, is that so or is it part of the ebullience and radicalization that occurs particularly in some processes more than in others?

Let us say that there are several actors playing a role in the dynamics of the national strike. One is the National Strike Committee, which includes the central workers’ organizations and other national organizations that have political and organizational dynamics. Another is the indigenous Minga and finally, this process of the popular assemblies, which include the front lines, popular organizations, youth, delegates of the popular assemblies. Concerning the first scenario, a sector of the National Strike Committee has a view that this will be resolved within the electoral framework and in the perspective of 2022 and sees it as a single scenario. They united and the Independent and Revolutionary Workers Movement (MOIR), held a press conference, not on behalf of the Strike Committee, but of their so-called “national unitary command”, which groups them together. They called for a change of tactics to diminish and dismantle the strike. This does not correspond to what was being discussed, not even in the national strike committee. In fact, the people understand that we have to strengthen the strike, the popular struggle, we have to consider how to demand that the government complies with the agreements and we have a broader perspective, the construction of the homeland, the construction of a different country. That generates discussions, and tensions in the movement, which is diverse, broad, with different interests at stake, but we know that the people in their own dynamics, diversities and developments, are building ways to feed and sustain this national strike.

From what we have read, in this demobilizing line there are some politicians, including Gustavo Petro himself, who are betting on the elections and somehow trying to profit from this mobilization. It is a phenomenon that is repeated in other countries as well, in the face of large-scale popular mobilization, there are always some who are speculating, trying to take water for their own mill. How do you see it?

There are leaders and organizations that are calculating on the 2022 election. But we believe that this is not the only scenario, that the possibilities are not exhausted because we know that the regime in Colombia is strong, it has control of the military forces and will not allow democratic and participative changes to be implemented. We know the criminal and murderous character of those who govern. That is why we have 80 deaths in the context of this national strike. We recognize these leaders and we are being critical and self-critical of these positions, not everything can be in pursuit of the electoral processes, what we must do is to strengthen the movement, the popular struggle, the new organizational expressions, give a voice to the youth, to the front line, to those who resist, fight and strengthen the national strike. The leaders may be calculating, even the political parties and movements that group together sectors that support this position, their bases are also strengthening this movement and national strike. It is the dispute that is taking place now from the institutional point of view, in the defense of the failed democracy and other mechanisms of participation. Meanwhile, there are strong sectors that are currently supporting the national strike and have a more long term perspective, more strategic, and we believe that the political-electoral path would not help the disputes with the governments and the Colombian regime.

A few days ago there was an explosion in Cúcuta, which made it known, outside Colombia’s borders, that U.S. military personnel from the Southern Command were being trained there, something that was well known but it is always good to have proof in that sense. This explosion had secondary effects on that issue. On the other hand, the accusations of Minister Molano and Iván Duque who said this is the ELN, this is the FARC or the “Peluso”. What do you think happened in Cúcuta?

The fact that this is happening in a context where the country is highly militarized and where the largest budgets are allocated to the country’s war, to intelligence. We do not know how these things happen, particularly in the place of a military garrison. It is similar to when social leaders are assassinated in militarized territories and the police do not take any action, then doubts are generated about the actions. Another element is that before starting the national strike, Colombia was taking an international role, where the United States wanted to invade the brotherly people of Venezuela. So, the strike delayed this plan of interference. What is happening in Cúcuta is evidence that U.S. troops are present in Colombia. Troops that are supporting a plan of interference, counterinsurgency, a plan against the popular social movement, and that is serious. It is a fact that is violating the sovereignty, the autonomy of the peoples and that proves that the Duque government and Uribism are kneeling to the interests of the United States. Beyond the fact itself, of this explosion, this car bomb, there are situations that are being investigated because everything seems doubtful. It is evident how the United States is a fundamental part of the construction of state terrorism and has the power to advance in interventionist plans that are beyond the interests of the United States in Colombia, but in all our continent. It demands that we alert the peoples so that we can use the mechanisms of denunciation and solidarity to show how, from the popular struggle, we continue to fight against this common enemy, which is the imperialism of North America that seeks to continue dispossessing the peoples and have political, social and media control to develop these interests in opposition to autonomy.