We have characterized the formidable social mobilization that has been developing in Colombia since April 28th of this year (2021) as a social explosion. There have been more than 42 days of marches, sit-ins, rallies, road and highway blockades of diverse nature and impact, where the constant has been violent and criminal repression by the State, and where the support of the population has been majority and visible.
In spite of the fact that the National Strike Committee (CNP) made up of the central workers, unions and other social organizations has not suspended the movement, that the Indigenous Minga with peasant and cocalero sectors grouped around the “Social Pact”, and the Rebel Youth in the process of articulation in the Union of Resistance, have decided to keep the street mobilization active, it is evident that the protest has entered a phase of exhaustion that we do not know if in the short term it can be reactivated or will sprout again in the future.
Before advancing on an evaluation that allows us to construct some lessons, it is necessary to reiterate several important aspects of the achievements of this stupendous and enthusiastic experience of social, political and cultural struggle that millions of Colombians have led, in order to carry out an analysis that must go beyond the punctual and circumstantial balances.
Such an evaluation is pending for future writings and should contain at least a periodization of the process of struggle with its background, the description of the social and political actors protagonists, the analysis of the attitudes developed by the most organized forces, a more detailed characterization of what we call “social explosion”, a balance of the strategies promoted by the political organizations that influence the Colombian social movement against the strategy of the State (and of the different sectors of the dominant castes), and some lessons that serve to prepare the popular forces for the new challenges that lie ahead. Everything to feed the necessary and fraternal debate.
It must be said that the social outburst itself is a great achievement in a society that, living in the midst of violence, had fallen into a kind of inertia and lethargy. The impact and duration of the movement can only be explained by the broad and massive support it has had from a large part of society, even from those sectors that reject some forms of struggle such as blockades or road closures, but are aware of the structural causes that have generated such a degree of nonconformity and protest.
The artistic expressions of the youth that are at the center of the protests, which in reality are true performances and works of art involving thousands of people, especially young people and women, stand out. It has been a phenomenal and creative process of encounter between different social sectors that is gradually deepening as solidarity and support has required more visible and decisive actions.
The way in which political achievements and demands have been wrested from the government without the need to formally negotiate – in the best style of what happened recently in Chile – are aspects to be pointed out and analyzed, as they correspond to the power of the movement and the diversity and complexity of the actors involved. Moreover, the social outburst managed to corner the government and place it in a “state of resignation”, but in reality the bulk of the people who supported the protest were not interested in insurrectionary adventures.
The violent reaction of the government, which has included the murderous action of the police and the use of armed civilians (paramilitary) and which produced more than fifty young protesters killed, not only generated a deep crisis of governance in the country to the point that the dominant castes resorted to the militarization of the most mobilized regions and cities, but also brought as a consequence the unmasking of the government at international level. It has become clear that this government is part of an anti-democratic regime that violates human rights.
The greatest achievement so far is the awareness acquired in the process of the deployment of the popular force and some new forms of organization that are in full emergence, such as the Popular Assemblies that are in the process of construction and organization, and that if they manage to consolidate and become permanent, may become the seeds of a true parallel power, expressions of an effective autonomy and political independence, and organs of popular power that break with the institutional control that has dominated and limited the social and political movement of our country.
A pertinent reminder
This process of social and political mobilization has focused its struggle on confronting the Duque (Uribe) government. However, it is necessary to understand that we are facing a criminal and mafia regime. This regime must be characterized and understood in order to defeat it. Therefore, it is necessary to clarify the differences between regime and government.
The political regime has to do with the character of the STATE which in Colombia is “colonial-capitalist-oligarchic”. The current Uribe-Duque government is part of that regime but it has its particularities. For example, it has differences with the Santos government, even if they are minimal.
Duque is controlled by a mafia-terrorist alliance while the Santos government was led by the transnational oligarchy-capitalist that accepts the mafias but does not want them at the head of political power, not because of prurience or moral values but because of geopolitical interests.
That is to say, the political regime is a structural-systemic formation while governments are groups of people representing classes and class sectors (parties) that manage their interests from the government apparatus (they respond to particular interests and conjunctural moments).
These aspects of the nature of the State must be studied in more detail so as not to fall into idealisms that may frustrate our expectations later on. It is necessary, therefore, to understand that, even if Colombian progressivism gains access to the government, it will have to design a strategy to coexist within that Political Regime. That is to say, it will have to develop ways to undermine and overcome it, otherwise we will end up in a dead end.
This is the problem that the progressive and leftist governments of Latin America (and Greece and partially Spain) have encountered and have not been able to face or solve. It is an issue to deepen if we do not want to end up “adorning” the colonial-capitalist-oligarchic regime with some progressive flowers and limit ourselves to manage the “Inherited State” without making a single scratch to Big Capital (within which is the capital of the mafias).
The initiative that the social outburst has just left on the scene of struggle is that the people and the mobilized youth must build Popular Assemblies (permanent), that is, “parallel powers” (from below), autonomous governments, forms of organization independent of the existing institutionality, in order to be able to advance towards truly structural changes.
This is a matter that must be debated in all seriousness.