Update on news reporting on today’s day of action across Colombia

Colombian workers in rural and urban areas, students and many other sectors have held numerous protests across the country today. Unsurprisingly, the police have attacked the demonstrators, with reports suggesting the police have used live ammunition. People have courageously fought back with whatever they can.

In a headline ‘Anti-government protests in Colombia; Violent clashes with Police in Bogota and Medellin’, Colombia Reports starts:

“Tens of thousands have taken to the streets across Colombia in the biggest show of force from anti-government protests since agriculture workers went on strike last week. Violent clashes were reported, primarily from Bogota.

Protesters started arriving at the Plaza Bolivar in Bogota in the late morning, and by the early afternoon there were roughly 10,000 people assembled in the city’s main square. Caracol Radio, one of Colombia’s national media intensely following ongoing protests, reported that a total of 40,000 people were protesting around the city.” Read more here.

Al Jazeera reports: ‘Colombian President seeks calm amidst protests’.

Colombia Reports also writes that it appears Santos can no longer ignore the protests, albeit only referring to the ‘agricultural sector’, while students are threatening to join the action.

The indigenous Wayuu people are reported to have blocked the main road in the north between Colombia and Venezuela in the far northeast region of La Guajira, forcing the closure of several businesses in Maicao.

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Human Rights abuses: a reminder

In light of the arrest and imprisonment of trade union leader Huber Ballasteros, The Guardian writes on the continued human rights abuses in Colombia, which the author terms Colombia’s ‘dirty secret’. It’s a reminder of the real risks, and courage, the people of Colombia take when they protest or become involved in organizations that organize to fight for workers and people’s rights:

“At the end of July, I found myself in sitting in the attorney general’s office in Colombia. I had spent the previous week travelling across the country with the NGO Justice for Colombia, and the idea was for me to meet the attorney general’s office and talk about the things I’d observed – the political prisoners I’d heard about, the state atrocities, the unsolved executions.” Read more here: ‘Human rights in Colombia: how bad do things have to get?

Tensions ahead of protests on Thursday reported

Colombia Politics tweet:

“Colombia, universities and schools closed tomorrow to protect students. Mass marches expected. Tension increases as strike grows”

We expect to see a flurry of reports in the coming days and weeks. Our intention is to report on what happens on the ground and how local communities, in rural as well as urban areas, are getting organized, involving more local people, resisting State oppression, and ensuring people do not go without food in the process.

 

Hola y bienvenidos a Colombia Resistencia! (Hello and welcome to Colombia Resistance!)

Welcome to our new blog, reporting on the resistance movement in Colombia!

Colombia is a beautiful country: there are many blogs and news reports on why you should visit, a recent one being 10 reasons why to like Colombia. We have moved and are settling into a country whose motto is ‘the only risk is wanting to stay’. That has, indeed, happened in our case, and we are strong supporters of tourism to the country, and would invite people from all continents to visit for a holiday!

However, Colombia’s political side only receives a smattering of reporting in the English-speaking world. Prior to moving here, our impression of that side was very simplistic: a major exporter of drugs that the government is eager to crack down on, a rural shady resistance organization called FARC, and a high crime rate coupled with human rights abuses. We also identified Colombia as being the closest Latin American country, politically, to the USA.

Less well known to us was the resistance to social injustice. It is an important dimension to life in Colombia because it demonstrates that people in urban and rural areas are fighting against human rights abuses and State oppression, and for a more equitable society.

Our aim is not to scare people away from Colombia – we have found it to be relatively safe providing people do the sensible things that all tourist guides advise: e.g. don’t venture into those deep rural areas where the armed conflict is alive!

Our concerns are not only that the poor image of Colombia abroad is out of all proportion to reality. As social activists in our respective countries, we have found English news reporting on the groundswell of resistance to oppression fragmented. We also notice that there is a lack of English-language reporting on radical autonomous perspectives.

There are many different websites and blogs reporting daily, in English and Spanish, on the situation in Colombia. The aim here is to bring English language reports together under a website where the central focus is on resistance to State injustice and oppression.

This blog will have two main focuses. The key aim is to bring to the English-language world the resistance of the people of Colombia to human rights abuses and State repression, by drawing attention to reporting on the following issues:

– Resistance to the State by workers, their representative organizations and the trade union movement;

– Resistance of the Indigenous people to the attempts of multinational companies to drive them from their land;

– Cultural resistance in all media and all art-forms; for example, journalism or graffiti;

– Actions of non-hierarchical, autonomous and Leftist movements throughout the region.

We would like to add a caveat and an appeal.

We have no connections with any of the people or movements listed or reported, we are not affiliated to any political party or movement, nor are we journalists. We are not so brave, but we are taking a risk given the human rights abuses that exist in the country. We do, however, side with those resisting State oppression and that of the multinational companies intent on grabbing land and resources at the expense of indigenous peoples.

We would be interested in knowing of any English-language websites or blogs readers may think would be useful to link to this website. We also welcome important news reports that we may have missed.

We wholeheartedly welcome entries to this blog from people at the cutting edge of social protest movements, be they information from the front-line, reports, photographs or video.  These may be sent anonymously of course.

We are new, so give us time to evolve. The cultural resistance aspect of our blog is extremely vital, as we believe that humor, music, dance, creative resistance, celebration of protest, and having fun in the process, is vital to the struggle for social change.

In solidarity

T&B