• Fred Guerin

Colombia: Mass Protest and Police Violence


Yet another US-backed neoliberal fascist regime is in chaos. In the midst of a pandemic when Colombians are dying at a rate of 500 per day and millions are suffering economically because they are out of work, President Ivan Duque decided it was time to introduce a new plan for expanded taxes on citizens, small businesses, utilities, and food. Predictably, the ultra-rich were left to their own greedy devices. What the president was not counting on was a tremendous backlash as thousands of protestors took to the streets to protest his new tax plan. Like all fascist regimes, protestors were immediately designated as ‘terrorists’ by the government and met by ultra-violent police resulting in more than two dozen dead, 1800 injured and 87 missing. Since he was ‘elected’ in 2018 the Machiavellian-loving Duque has shown Colombians he has absolutely no qualms about conspiring with neo-Nazi’s and drug trafficking organizations or murdering community leaders, union leaders, and environmentalists. However, the sheer volume and intensity of protests which includes ordinary citizens, unions, Indigenous peoples, and community groups, forced the Duque government to back down on the tax reforms—at least temporarily. This has in no way stemmed the tide of protest. Colombians are fed up with neoliberal fascists like Duque. As it always does, neoliberal economics ends in unemployment, poverty, and inequality. It privatizes healthcare and police forces, encourages transnational extractive corporations to profit from the destruction of the environment, and systematically arrests and jails the poor, people of colour, and the Indigenous. When neoliberal governments are left with huge debt after excessive borrowing, tax breaks to elites, and subsidies to corporations you can be absolutely certain their next move will be to raise the taxes of ordinary citizens. That is what has happened in Colombia. It is very probable that if protests continue, police forces will ramp up the violence and the Duque government will solicit help from the military. That would be the worst kind of outcome. On a more positive note, the protests in Colombia have raised the consciousness of millions of citizens. They have seen firsthand how truly brutal, repressive, and morally corrupt their government is, and they are not going away. Then again, neither is the Biden government going to withdraw support for the Duque government. The truth is that America has economic and long-standing strategic and political relations with Colombia—they much prefer a neoliberal fascist in power than people like Maduro, Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, Manuel Zelaya, Juan José Torres, Salvador Allende, Jacobo Árbenz who resist American neoliberalism and corporate hegemony, and fight instead for social, economic, political and agrarian reform in the interests of the common good. The intention of neoliberal capitalism is to destroy democracy, to disempower the masses, and extinguish any possibility of an informed, engaged public acting together to better their world. It does everything it can to eviscerate the social, political, and environmental commons, and shift the locus of social and economic decision-making to unaccountable private power. It has been, from the very start, a conscious and determined attempt to reshape the world for the sake of corporate profit and the enrichment of the few. In real human, social, environmental, and democratic political terms neoliberalism is an utter failure. But in a neoliberal political and economic system failure in advancing public good means windfall profits in the hands of individual and corporate ‘winners’ Fredrick Douglas once said that “the limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” As long as we fail to resist it neoliberal policy will continue under powerful governments and people like Joe Biden, Narendra Modi, Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, Boris Johnson, and Angela Merkel. It will also continue to be exported to South American nations like Colombia over against the wishes and aspirations of the majority of citizens. 06/05/21



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