The people call it a general strike. The unions started it, teachers and students joined in, and then everybody, in the hundreds of thousands, took to the streets to peacefully protest against the fascist policies of the recently installed Ivan Duque. Some say it was millions. No leader, no institution, no group, is in charge of it. A moment of anarchy, a moment of justice demanded.
The people are furious because labor, pension, and tax “reforms” (read the killing of a minimum wage, pensions, and increasing taxes) are being discussed Duque and the national Congress. Also, there are plans to privatize state-run services. The paramilitary has stepped up killing community organizers and indigenous leaders. “In my community, in my department of Cauca, they’re killing our social leaders in our indigenous lands … they’re killing us selectively,” said Almayari Barano Yanakuna, a 48-year-old indigenous woman who stood among crowds of thousands.
In Orwellian newspeak, President Duque said, the night before the strike, that the military was there to guarantee freedom of speech and to protect citizens. His orders were different than his words. The military joined with the police to shoot tear gas into the crowds, impose curfews, and bomb camps to kill indigenous dissidents. Purge dissent.
Let’s step back and take a look at the big picture. Over the last two decades, the US has established military bases, provided billions of military assistance to the Colombian military, sent hundreds of millions of foreign aid to the “right-wing government. It was called Plan Colombian, to “fight” drug trafficking. Funny, the drug trade is larger now than before, and the street price of these drugs from Colombia are cheaper now than they were before.
In her briefing on the US military presence in Colombia, ICPJ reporter Leigh Wedenoja writes that the anti-drug efforts have destroyed half of the fertile land worked by the indigenous people, forcing the displacement of millions. The paramilitary has killed hundreds of trade unionists and teachers. Thousands of civilians have been murdered. Because of ongoing agreements with Colombia, there is very little oversight both of the US financial aid and, our military assistance to the Colombian paramilitary. Recently, John Bolton recommended sending an additional 5000 troops to Colombia, aimed at Venezuela. Purge all opposition.
Since there is no change in drug production and distribution, and since we are propping up the security apparatus in Colombia, is it possible, just possible that US taxpayer-funded US military reinforcing the American Empire, also known as the neoliberal agenda? And what’s the neoliberal agenda, supported by Republicans and Democrats: privatization, deregulation, free trade, austerity, reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society.
Wait! Doesn’t Duque want that too? Coincidence? Just sayin’