COLOMBIA - Nationwide protests

We want to publish this article as supplement to the protests in Colombia which spread in the end of November 2019.

On the 21st of November the people of Colombia took to the streets to protest. Among the demands are ending corruption, stopping privatization, stopping the murdering of indigenous and union leaders, putting forward a minimum wage that covers a family's household costs and lets them live with dignity and stopping the laboral and pension reforms. The protests are still going.

On the 21st there were massive protests in Bogota, Cali and Medellin. In Bogota alone 200.000 people took to the streets to protest. In the city square, Plaza Bolivar, the protestors clashed with the police. They also blocked the main streets and highways of the city.

There were plenty of anti-disturbance preparations done by the Colombian state in anticipation to the strike. There were numerous raids at activist's homes before the day of protest, where flyers and facescarfs were confiscated and used against them as proof of "terrorism". Websites and new agencies were also targeted. The press office of the Urbano Cartel news agency was raided with the justification that the police was looking for bombs. The police also demanded from the digital media website Cerosetenta to take down an article that showed people how to protect themselves from the ESMAD (Colombian special police forces).

The military was put in alert, many military vehicles being placed in middle of the city in strategic places and soldiers being deployed around the city. The military presence on the streets was prevalent and a way to intimidate the population to stay put. Even the borders to neighboring countries were closed until the 22nd.

On the first day hundred throusands of persons took to the streets. Among them were unions, NGOs, social and people's movements, intelectuals, middle class people and a massive participation of students, who took another route than the one planned by the bureaucracy of the central unions. The reason for this was to generate a bigger and stronger effect with the demonstration, but also to use the university as a defense stronghold in case the ESMAD (Colombian special police forces) were deployed.

In the morning some of the main streets were blocked, some blockades being dissolved easily and fast due to less involvment of the population in the protest, while in others the population flocked to the blockades and started the first clashes with the police. Organised drivers from the transport system had disrupted the activity of one of the companies by the time the first clashes commenced. It was here that the ESMAD was deployed first.

Later on in the day, resistence was formed in the in the middle of the city as an answer to the massive repression by the police and in the street leading to the airport by the students. In the two openings of the National Universty the clashes went on until nightfall. The students played an important role for their numbers and their decision to fight against the repression by the state. The police used hundreds of tear gas canisters, stun grenades, rubber bullets and paint. Many tanks were also deployed to destroy the barricades and to fight off protestors with water cannons.

When the strike was nearing its end, many people congregated to make Caclorazos (a form of protest in which people make a lot of noise by hitting a pan) in solidarity with the strike and against police brutality. These transformed into marches inside the neighborhoods, which signaled the importance to continue with the protests. This call for further struggle found hearing in middle class and poor neighborhoods around the city. Altough a curfew had been placed, many people already in house clothes and pajamas took to the streets to show their anger towards the Colombian state.

After the first day of protest and even having the curfew on, what the Colombian state achieved was not to quiet people down, but to make them even angrier. The protest expanded to more cities. More so, the protest expanded to more cities. In a coordinated action the population of Colombia in many cities (some travelling to cities to protest even) made one of the biggest Cacelorazos in Colombia's history. This form of peaceful protest was brutally cracked down by the police, which fired teargas into the masses.

The reaction by the state especially the repressive forces made protestors plan militarist actions. In many cities homemade bombs were thrown at buildings, while windows and doors were smashed. In a city a police car was burned to a crisp, while a police station was exploded. The Congress of Colombia building was also heavily attacked and vandalized, showing how little effect the fear of the repressive forces has on the people.

Knowing of the contradictions in its own country, the Colombian state knows no other way to respond but with militarization. In the deepening of the contradictions the Colombian people are leading a righteous struggle. They are showing once more that the demands they make have to be fought for. They are a living example of fearlessness and bravery. With their protest they have become yet another country in South America that is sending shivers down the spine of the imperialist's puppets. The Colombian people have over 500 injured, 200 incarcerated and 3 dead fighting companions. They are valiantly struggling and will continue to do so, until their demands are met.

To the brave people of Colombia struggling in the protests:

La rebelión se justifica!

Down with the boot-licking imperialist puppet Duque!

Adelante compañeros/as! Ningún paso atrás!

#IvanDuque #21denoviembre #parogeneral #protest #Colombia #Bogota #Medellin #Cali #ESMAD