Colombia: Social movement organizing against neoliberal policies

Voices in Movement


Orginally published by Noticias de Abajo on May 4, 2021, translated by Shantal Montserrat Lopez Victoria.

In Colombia, Indigenous Minga along with unions, students, peasants and environmental organizations, are calling for a historic strike against the National Development Plan of the ultra-right-wing president Ivan Duque, which proposes a rollback of social rights.

Since April 28th, several cities and states in Colombia have been flooded by tens of thousands of protesters who are demanding the reversal of measures that go against the welfare of Colombian society. Among these measures are economic programs that propose the privatization of health and education, a lack of peace agreements as well as rollbacks for labor rights.

Thousands of protesters were met with repression and brutality by State forces and as a result there are cases involving people losing eyesight, physical and sexual violence, and protestors being killed. According to the Temblores Human Rights platform, figures are as follows: 13 murders inflicted by police, 68 physical attacks, 655 arbitrary detentions, 4 cases of sexual violence, not including unregistered events by human rights organizations who have also been stripped of their rights and harassed while documentation cases.

In an attempt to stop the marches and “contain these terrorists”, as Senator Alvaro Uribe refers to the demonstrators, the government began to deploy military troops and tanks in cities such as Cali and Bogota, contrary to the local governments’ decision to not use force. This confirms the fascist and dictatorial nature of the government which the corporate media does not accept.

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA – MAY 01: Protesters are seen during the national strike against the tax reform as they gather on the International Workers’ Day on May 01, 2021, Bogota, Colombia, 2021. Unions joined to call a national strike and demonstrations in major cities, urging participants to follow COVID-19 protocols as the heavy protest continues in the biggest cities of the country in Cali, Medellin, and Bogota. (Photo by Juancho Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Despite the militarization of the country, protesters continue fighting to make the government of Ivan Duque respond to the serious human rights violations. Thus, the Indigenous Minga, transportation and freight companies and other organizations are calling to maintain the national strike until we see measures that will benefit society.

Protesters achieved their main objective of withdrawing the tax reform, but the harsh economic crisis that the country is going through due to poor government management and the rejection of social welfare policies has made it imperative to change the course of Ivan Duque’s economic project in his National Development Plan. This initiative that has hit the most impoverished social sectors the hardest while favoring private entities close to the government.

If the people are demonstrating it is because “The government is more dangerous than the virus” yet the government continues with fascist proposals that are plundering the earth. The aristocratic government is trying to dispose of environmentalists, workers and students in a national project but no economic policy can be built on the suffering of the people.

The fall of the ultra-right government is imminent. Now, the only remaining question is if it will be through resignation or elections?

IFA Communiqué – Mayday 2021

International Anarchist Statement on May Day

Sifuna Zonke, zabalaza.net

The ZACF is pleased to co-sign this statement along with anarchist groups around the world to commemorate May Day.

May 1st, 1886, a wide-ranging strike started in the United States demanding an eight-hour working day. The journey’s slogan was “Eight hours’ labour, Eight hours’ recreation, Eight hours’ rest”, propagandised since the mid-19th century and through which the labour movement struggled to seize power from Capital and dispute worker’s time for life, culture, and enjoyment.

The strike was prepared in advance. The American labour movement decided on it in 1884. To carry it out, hundreds of meetings and rallies were held, funds were collected, at times when union organising was illegal. Manifestos and newspapers were circulated encouraging workers to join the planned strike.

International Anarchist Statement on May Day

May 1st, 1886, a wide-ranging strike started in the United States demanding an eight-hour working day. The journey’s slogan was “Eight hours’ labour, Eight hours’ recreation, Eight hours’ rest”, propagandised since the mid-19th century and through which the labour movement struggled to seize power from Capital and dispute worker’s time for life, culture, and enjoyment.

The strike was prepared in advance. The American labour movement decided on it in 1884. To carry it out, hundreds of meetings and rallies were held, funds were collected, at times when union organising was illegal. Manifestos and newspapers were circulated encouraging workers to join the planned strike.

Yet the struggle for an eight-hour working day was not conceived as a mere reform. It was permeated with hope for a better tomorrow, a struggle which in turn made its way to another definite struggle for an egalitarian society, free of all oppression. Neither was it understood that this struggle should pass through congress, nor through the courts, but rather that it should succeed by means of direct-action lead by the popular masses.  The working class distrusted those deceitful institutions that meant for them a source of repression and hunger.

On May 1st, 1886, the strike proved to be massive, with demonstrations across the country, with its core at the populous industrial city of Chicago. There, police repression was strongly felt, as well as workers’ resistance; confrontations took place,  resulting in several dead and injured, including one worker who died in front of the McCormick industrial plant, where there were many scabs.

Challenged with fierce repression, workers called for a demonstration on May 4th at Haymarket Square. During the event, an unknown person threw an explosive device, in response to repression by the police. This instigated the police’s brutal response, launching a campaign of persecution, imprisonment and torture against workers, of which eight frontline militants and anarchist union leaders were crushed by the full burden of bourgeoise justice, after being convicted of conspiracy.

The court case was an anti-working class set up, just as only a few years later another two prominent anarchists, Sacco and Vanzetti, would be set up as well. Testimonies and evidence were fabricated, bringing down the bourgeoisie’s resentment on the working-class militancy. Even the prosecutor, Julius Grinnell, himself phrased it as follows: “Law is on trial. Anarchy is on trial… Gentlemen of the jury, convict these men, make examples of them, hang them and you save our institutions, our society”.

The following year, in November 1887, the bourgeoise law sentenced some of the accused anarchists to several years of imprisonment, and the others to death by hanging. Before the court, Adolph  Fischer declared:

“If I am to die on account of being an Anarchist, on account of my love for liberty, fraternity and equality, then I will not remonstrate. If death is the penalty for our love of the freedom of the human race, then I say openly I have forfeited my life; but a murderer I am not”.

Since then, May 1st (or May Day) is commemorated as the International Workers’ Day. First commemorated in 1890, May Day is commemorated as a day of workers’ strikes against Capital, as an occasion for tributes to the martyrs of the 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago and to fight for the 8-hour workday. As a result of strikes and tenacious struggle, the 8-hour demand was slowly conquered by the working class in different countries, as it is the case of Uruguay and New Zealand before 1915, or in Spain with the Canadenca Strike in 1919.

What May Day means today

The 8-hour working day has already been conquered as a right in many countries, and May 1st is recognized as an international day of commemoration by the labour movement across the globe. However, today millions of oppressed people in the world still labour for long and exhausting working days in dire conditions, accidents still occur in factories and workshops, resulting in dreadful tragedies, as we have seen happening in Bangladesh numerous times. Transnational Capital has disproportionally spread production all over the planet, impoverishing the living and working conditions of entire populations in peripheral regions and countries, threatening, on top of it, the very existence of the planet.

Therefore, the demand for the 8-hour working day is still a current and valid one. And, above all, the society dreamed of and fought for by the Chicago Martyrs and generations of militants and workers is more valid than ever, for they carried in their hearts wishes for social justice for all humanity, knowing that the struggle against Capitalism and the State was decisive, as it is still today. They knew the oppressors and their institutions are on one side, and the oppressed classes on the other, those who bleed before machines, who starve, who are unemployed, whom the capitalist system despises, but who will build a fair new world.

Like those who took part in the Chicago strikes, we the oppressed know today that justice cannot be achieved within the system, that the current social order brings us, who depend on our everyday labour to live, nothing good. Capitalism only brings misery, hunger, violence and death. This is what the system has brought us for centuries, yet in the past thirty years it has advanced technologically in a grotesque manner.  Capitalism has started wars to control resources, generating chaos in countries and turning them into “failed states”, destructing their entire productive systems, and displacing populations, turning them into refugees or economic migrants desperately looking for jobs and welfare. The list of catastrophes generated by Capital’s uncontrolled ambition in its imperialist arrangement is a long, complicated, one.

It is the oppressed classes across the world who suffer the consequences of the reproduction of the capitalist system and its need to exploit nature and human labour, it is us who must hold high the banners of struggle of the Chicago Martyrs and their dreams of justice and freedom.

What Organised Anarchism must do

Anarchism, the ideology professed by the Chicago Martyrs, has not died, nor has it disappeared, as many belonging to the various ideological and political currents have claimed. On the contrary, Anarchism today has the power to prove its proposal is valid and useful for humanity, that its social approach is valid for present struggles and not a “relic of the past”. The Anarchist commitment, which aims at building a society where power, property, and the means of self-subsistence are socialized, and where collective freedom is an essential component of social order, is current and valid today.

This proposal cannot take place overnight, it takes patience, tenacity, and determination to build a different society to promote people’s organisation and support people’s struggles. We must improve this proposal day by day. This is possible through social insertion in the heart of society, in the popular and working classes.

It is of special interest for Organised Anarchism to have an influence on the segments of society where the oppressed struggle, particularly on workers, strengthening and developing union organisation, and the fight for better wages and working conditions. Also, it is of interest of Organised Anarchism to weave these struggles with those of other oppressed peoples and construct a strategy around the realization of a Front of the Oppressed, advancing in the creation of greater spaces for self-management and class independence, regarding what we call the construction of popular power (or power from below).

All rights and benefits belonging to the people have been fought for and won through struggle. The ruling classes do not give anything away for free; only through solidarity and the militant struggle of people’s organisation in unity have we guaranteed victories for the oppressed. In that struggle Organised Anarchism has a place, with our strategy, our proposals, and our methodology, which emphasizes the creation of popular power and not that of a political party, as vanguardists often do.

The yearnings for justice and freedom of the Chicago Martyrs will roam the streets again this coming May Day, together along the oppressed of the world, in their struggle for a better future. Their dreams live on in the struggle of all people, all across the globe, for bread and dignity, but also for a fully egalitarian and fair society.

LONG LIVE THE CHICAGO MARTYRS!
LONG LIVE THE INTERNATIONAL WORKERS DAY!
Long Live Anarchism, Long Live Revolution
LET’S STRENGTHEN ORGANISED ANARCHISM!
FOR SOCIALISM AND FREEDOM!
Long live those who fight!

☆ Federación Anarquista Uruguaya – FAU
 (Uruguay)
☆ Federación Anarquista de Rosario – FAR (Argentina)
☆ Organización Anarquista de Tucumán – OAT (Argentina)
☆ Embat – Organització Llibertària de Catalunya (Catalonia)
☆ Devrimci Anarşist Federasyon – DAF (Turkey)
☆ Αναρχική Ομοσπονδία – Anarchist Federation (Greece)
☆ Organización Anarquista de Córdoba – OAC (Argentina)
☆ Die Plattform – Anarchakommunistische Organisation (Germany)
☆ Federación Anarquista Santiago – FAS (Chile)
☆ Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement – AWSM (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
☆ Coordenação Anarquista Brasileira – CAB (Brazil)
☆ Libertäre Aktion (Switzerland)
☆ Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front – ZACF (South Africa)
☆ Alternativa Libertaria – AL/fdca (Italy)
☆ Grupo Libertario Vía Libre (Colombia)
☆ Workers Solidarity Movement – WSM (Irland)
☆ Anarchist Communist Group – ACG (Great Britain)
☆ Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group – MACG (Australia)
☆ Organisation Socialiste Libertaire – OSL (Switzerland)
☆ Union Communiste Libertaire (France)

Mayday 2021


#killthebill

Corona comment number six, from the South of England: Gulag archipelago, by Mal Content.

Since my last comment the bourgeois state has ratchet-tightened its grip on all aspects of life, with the apparent acquiescence of a large section of the British population – Leaving out the six counties, who seem most preoccupied with not being able to buy vegetables. The demagogues of the devolved administrations* crazed with a little power, vie with each other to boss their subjects about.

* Scots nationalists have blown their best chance of independence in a century with all guns pointed at their own feet, I wonder if MI5 had a hand in that.

As I have observed elsewhere, ‘Lockdown’ is a measure taken by prison governors to facilitate searching of inmates for contraband, apprehending a fugitive or putting down disorder. Doors are all locked forcing each prisoner to remain wherever they find themself. It is predicated on the idea that prisoners have no agency, they do not ‘own’ their flesh, their time or their productive and creative abilities. Incarceration in the United States is an extension of chattel slavery as permitted by the thirteenth amendment; in Britain it originates from the custom of holding a person hostage pending payment of a debt. Other cultures find their own justifications. The first use of this term in respect of the corona virus epidemic was in the People’s Republic of China, which is of course nothing but a giant gulag. It will be deeply offensive to many of our Class who have suffered such abuse.

The latest regulations blatantly reserve overseas travel for the rich, and whilst it will amuse us to watch entitled posh people treated like common prisoners there is a serious point. Jewish workers, whose recent ancestors fled Nazi Germany and other European pogroms find it disturbing to need “permission” to leave the country. We have refugees from the former Soviet bloc and other totalitarian regimes. They know what it means to have papers out of order.

The middle class, the stodgy, flabby rump of totalitarianism, continues to twitch its curtains on full pay, brags about attending ‘zoom meetings’ from the bath or not getting out of bed at all. They quibble about how many times they are “allowed” to walk the dog or whether to have their mum over for lunch. Whilst they sit around their computers knocking themselves off like safari-park chimps, the Working Class must run the gauntlet of crowded workplaces, dodgy PPE and weirdoes who thing it’s clever to gob in their faces.

Gulag:
Acronym of Glavnoye Upravleniye Ispravitelno-Trudovykh Lagerey.
Russian: “Chief Administration of Corrective Labour Camps”

People are afraid, for sure, not just of the virus but of starvation and homelessness, of their kids condemned to the scrapheap, their parents dying alone. Rumours abound, of the cops using number plate recognition to clock how far a vehicle has travelled from its registered address. There are despicable class traitors who will grass on their neighbours. Although there is no stop and search power that requires anyone to answer questions*, we hear of people being threatened with arrest for refusing to identify themselves. Call their bluff I say, you waste my time I’ll waste yours.

* Unless you’re driving, then it’s name and address only.

Bosses are taking advantage of the ‘furlough’* to shed workers with protected characteristics, and the super-rich, as always, are making money hand over fist. The sums may seem abstract, but the only value of wealth is the expectation that someone, somewhere will labour to acquire it. This is achieved by limiting access to the product of our own labour. As Heywood put it: “if a man has a dollar he didn’t work for, someone else worked for a dollar he didn’t get”.

* Another prison term. ‘Furlough’ is temporary release. As most prisoners in the U.S. are no threat to anybody but themselves, should they become logistically inconvenient, or if there is no work for them to do, they can be put out to save the state the expense of feeding and housing them.

For years we were offered a false dichotomy between state control and free market – either way is unregulated aggregation of economic power. Somehow the state has been rehabilitated without ever lifting a finger on our behalf, and to contradict its nonsense is to be aligned with cranks with their own set of authoritarian delusions.

Now having had the ‘rona twice I don’t consider it a hoax, it was like sleeping sickness with a loss of mental focus and bodily appetites. The cough only set in after a week but it never quite went away. It tends to magnify symptoms you live with normally, in my case headache, joint pain and irregular digestion. But everybody’s different, some test positive with no symptoms at all, some clearly have it but test negative or inconclusive.

We hear a lot these days about “imagining new futures” but no-one has any answers beyond more of the same, with a bit of technological wizardry thrown in. You cannot “unite” a society built on domination and abuse that refines its exploitative mechanics with every crisis it visits on our Class. The idea that there is an alternative to the status quo that is still military-industrial capitalism is irredeemably stupid. It wasn’t too much of a surprise that fucking idiot Hancock is influenced by Hollywood films, he could have just read his government’s own report on preparing for a pandemic, published in 2016, if he were serious about becoming health secretary. Are we really going to let wankers like that get the better of us?

You cannot compromise with the ruling class because they won’t compromise with you. They will maintain their privilege at all costs – and it costs them nothing. Black people, and other disadvantaged groups will need to take matters into their own hands because the liberals and the reformists can do nothing for them. They will need to fight their oppressors with the same ferocity with which oppression was imposed on them. Compliance will eventually cost more of our lives than any pandemic. The proper response to the Colston situation was for a hundred thousand Bristolians to turn out on the streets and tell the ruling class we will not allow it to try these comrades, precipitate a real insurrection, there’s never been a better time.

There are no broad sunlit uplands on offer, only a brutal, vicious war with the prospect of the means of production finally under control of the producing Class – it’s got to be worth a fight, stuff your prison logic, let’s put our heads together and have a serious discussion about how to fuck shit up.

Carlo Sorrachi / Carlo Neri / HN104 undercover cop.

This is Carlo Sorrachi, alias “Carlo Neri”, a rapist who deceived  three women into having sex with him. Women who would no sooner have sex with a policeman than a dog or a monkey.

Sorrachi’s job was to spy on the socialist party, a group that has never been a threat to anybody, being largely composed of boring old tankies. He was active from 2001 to 2006 and based in north and central London.

Judge Mitting, whose seasonal job will be starting any day now. Ho ho ho.

Chair of the Undercover Policing Inquiry, judge Mitting, has taken a shine to Sorrachi and refuses to let him be named in the proceedings, insisting he be referred to as “HN104”. As a result, Dave Smith of the Blacklist Support Group was unable to make his Opening Statement. From the early 1990s until mid 2000s, Smith was spied on by three policemen: Peter Francis, Mark Jenner and Carlo Soracchi.

As agent provocateur, Sorrachi/Neri tried to persuade Trade Unionists Frank Smith, Dan Gilman and Joe Batty to burn a property belonging to fascist Roberto Fiore, leading to the bizarre spectacle of the notorious fascist terrorist threatening legal action against the Metropolitan police.

If you encountered Carlo Soracchi, Contact Undercover Research Project

Agroecology and Organized Anarchism: An Interview With the Anarchist Federation of Rio de Janeiro (FARJ)

Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation

In response to the industrial, capitalist model of food production that has decimated rural lifeways and our mother earth, social movements around the world have identified agroecology as their alternative proposal for rural development. Grounded in peasant and indigenous knowledge, struggles for food sovereignty and agrarian reform, agroecology is understood by social movements as “a tool for the social, economic, cultural, political and ecological transformation of communities and territories.”

This interview that Black Rose conducted in the Summer of 2020 with a militant from The Anarchist Federation of Rio de Janeiro’s (FARJ) Peasant Struggle Front, explores their work with some of Brazil’s social movements struggling for agroecology and food sovereignty. Coming from a context with highly developed peasant social movements, FARJ shares important insights for anarchist militants to learn from. 

More

Blacklisted worker barred from SpyCops Inquiry

Union News

Dave Smith, the secretary of the Blacklist Support Group, has been barred from appearing at the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

Smith was scheduled to make the opening statement on behalf of the Blacklist Support Group at 4.15pm today, but late last night was told not to attend, following a legal challenge regarding issues raised in his the opening statement.

A meeting before the chair, Sir John Mitting, has been arranged for Monday morning.

union-news.co.uk understands Dave Smith was planning to accuse undercover police officers of inciting arson and colluding with multinational construction firms to blacklist union members. He co-authored a book, Blacklisted, that detailed his experiences of being unlawfully denied work because of his trade union activity.

Blacklisted worker Dan Gillman has written about his hopes for the Mitting Inquiry here and Donna McClean has written about her experience about being tricked into a relationship with a spycop here.

  • Like this story? Please support our work here.

Open letter to North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust regarding Dr. Caroline Johnson M.P.

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to express concern about one of your staff members, Dr. Caroline Johnson, a part-time paediatric consultant at Peterborough City Hospital and M.P. for Sleaford and North Hykeham. Her vote to deny vulnerable children free school meals during the half-term break at a time when their parents face severe economic hardship is seriously alarming.

I no longer live in the constituency but I grew up just outside of Sleaford and completed my secondary education in the town during the mid 2000’s. Later, I worked in a supermarket in a Working Class community. I am acutely aware that Sleaford, indeed the entire county of Lincolnshire has significant rates of poverty compounded by the rural nature of the area.

If the pandemic and debate about whether children should be fed had occurred during my schooldays, some of my rural classmates would have gone hungry and their situation would have been even more desperate due to the relative isolation of communities in the central and south-western areas of the county.

As a youth worker I have undergone the safeguarding and child protection training that comes with such roles. I am sure Dr. Johnson will have completed similar training, with regular updates. Like me, Dr. Johnson has a duty of care to protect children and young people from harm. The Children Acts 1989 and 2004 codify this duty of care in statue and highlight the role of the NHS in keeping them safe. One of the basic principles of this legislation is to allow children to be healthy and help them to succeed.

By voting against feeding children at half-term, Dr. Johnson shows a blatant and abject disregard for her duty of care. This casts doubt on her fitness to treat vulnerable patients as a paediatric consultant. Has she forgotten the Hippocratic Oath? Has she sacrificed the ethics of her profession to her political career?

We are all aware of the importance of healthy, balanced diets in relation to child development and nutrition. Poverty significantly diminishes their chance of consuming such a diet. McDonald’s is now offering one million meals free to families affected by the government’s failures. Does Dr. Johnson truly believe, in her medical opinion, that vulnerable children’s nutritional needs are better met by fast food than school meals prepared to strict nutritional standards?

I wish that my concerns be taken seriously by the NHS Trust.

Yours faithfully

Jack Collins.


If anyone would like to add their name to this letter, whether or not they reside in Lincolnshire, please e-mail wsol at riseup dot net or use the contact form.

Signed:

Gary Stacey (IWW)

Peregrin Scotney (IWW)

Millie Kettell (IWW)

Elliott James

Kill Franco!

Stuart Christie recounts the anti-Fascist resistance in post war Spain, including his own attempt to assassinate the dictator Francisco Franco.