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Burning Spear News

The colonial crisis in Colombia continues

Jul 11, 2017
Chia Cotansuca

This month, Colombia celebrates its 207th year of ‘independence’ from Spanish rule on July 20.

However, two months ago (on May 10 and 16, respectively), the colonial crisis in so-called Colombia deepened further when African and Indigenous people in the looted states of Choco and Buenaventura along the Pacific coast went on strike against the State.

They are protesting the colonial conditions forcibly imposed on them for hundreds of years.

This strike has spread to other parts of the country, including Medellín, Cali and Bogotá, where hundreds of thousands of workers and teachers have started strikes of their own in the same vein.

Colonial conditions

Choco is one of the most looted regions in Colombia.

It is no coincidence that its population is predominantly African and Indigenous, and that the people have been severely impacted by a war over the region’s natural resources.

This war is euphemistically referred to as a war for peace (re: Plan Colombia) that has been in effect for over 50 years.

For example, 79 percent of the people in this region don’t have their basic needs met, compared to the 27.7 percent national average.

The maternal mortality rate surpasses that of Rwanda (290) and Cambodia (161), with about 358 per 100,000 live births.

In Buenaventura, the conditions are no better.

Local gold mines contaminate the water with mercury and with virtually no sewage system, the condition inevitably leads to illness and death.

There was only one hospital for a population of around 400,000.

In 2015, the hospital was closed, leaving the people no choice but to travel to the nearest hospital in Cali; most people die en route.

The people of this region are also under constant threat of kidnapping and murder from gangs, and the government doesn’t even bat an eyelash or lift a finger.

The violence from paramilitary death squads in particular that began at the turn of the century has displaced over 100,000 people from the city, making Buenaventura the capital of forced displacement in the country.

Colombia is home to 6.9 million internally displaced people.

This is State violence.

This is genocide.

The core contradiction: colonialism

Buenaventura is home to Colombia’s most important port.

An estimated 75 percent of the country’s imports and exports pass through, generating huge corporate profits and a significant portion of the country’s tax revenue.

However, the colonized people of Buenaventura do not receive any of this wealth.

Instead, it goes into the blood soaked hands of the ruling class imperialists and their partners, which include the U.S. and the EU.

Colombia has signed 17 free trade agreements up until now.

There is an undeniable pattern among them that consists of creating and expanding more infrastructure for the export and import of goods, especially the export of natural resources.

The trade agreements also include government development plans designed by Spanish and British consultancy firms that will expand the port to increase its capacity and construct a corporate tourist zone that would further contribute to the internal displacement of the region.

At the center of all of this lies the core contradiction: colonialism, the foreign domination of a group of people by an oppressor nation.

The current government in Colombia is and has been a colonial one, make no mistake.

What the colonized people of Colombia are protesting is neglect from the State and a lack of access to their own land, resources, and wealth.

They are fighting for political, economic, and state power over their lives so they can feed, clothe and house themselves. So they can live with dignity.

Their struggle is a righteous one, and it mirrors struggles all around the world for freedom and self-determination.

As African Internationalists and members of the Uhuru Movement, we unequivocally unite with this struggle.

Righteous African and Indigenous resistance

In response to the State’s genocidal project, the people went from petitioning the government to making demands.

A coalition of 100 community and grassroots organizations came together to organize around eight demands with the slogan, ‘To live with dignity on our territory.’

These demands include reparations for individuals and communities, as well as basic human rights such as access to food, clean water, education, housing, healthcare, work and proper infrastructure.

Since these demands have yet to be met by the State, the people rose up, effectively closing down Buenaventura’s main port.

Organizers originally planned eight blockades of key roads but by the end of the first day an estimated 30 had sprung up, with more and more communities mounting their own roadblocks.

The impact of these roadblocks is far-reaching. On May 16, they shut down key routes for trade and commerce, halting traffic and closing businesses.

Staffed by communities playing soccer and music, rural African and Indigenous communities have set up even more roadblocks along the main highway out of Buenaventura, one of Colombia’s most important trade routes.

This uprising is a part of a long history and tradition of African and Indigenous resistance that has been ongoing since 1499 when the settler Alonso de Ojeda first set foot on the northern tip of so-called South America.

The anti-colonial resistance in Colombia is the longest and oldest guerrilla conflict on the continent.

This goes to show that there ain’t nothing like the power of the people because the power of the people don’t stop!

The settler State attacks

Nobel Peace Prize-winner President Juan Manuel Santos ordered a military-style attack on the city on May 17 and imposed a curfew, essentially calling for a state of emergency.

He bombarded the city with heavily armed military units and ESMAD anti-riot units (El Escuadrón Móvil Antidisturbios/Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron) who used lethal force to put down protests.

For example, on May 20, ESMAD threw tear gas at crowds, killing two people, injuring dozens more and detaining around 80 people.

The protesters largely consisted of children and elders. So far this year, 52 social leaders and human rights defenders have been murdered.

However, the State is no match for the power and sheer magnitude of the people, with over 150,000 protesting in defiance of the state of emergency.

Sin Miedo / Without Fear

Despite this domestic terrorism, the colonized people of Buenaventura are determined to take their power, land and resources back.

In the words of one leader, “They took so much from the people of Buenaventura they took away our fear.”

President Kalambayi Andenet of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement said something similar: “We (Africans) aren’t afraid to die,” during the Kundé Speaks event in Boston to bring justice for the three drowned black girls: Dominique Battle, Laniya Miller, and Ashaunti Butler.

We need fearless warriors like this in the ranks for the African revolution; a revolution that is in unwavering solidarity with the Indigenous struggle.

We understand that, ultimately, our liberation is intertwined and we need to get into political life in order to achieve this end goal.

Call to Action: Get Into Organization

We need to get into organized anti-colonial, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist class struggle for national liberation if we want to be successful in getting free in our lifetime.

The way to accomplish this task is by joining a revolutionary organization that is guided by a revolutionary theory.

The African People’s Socialist Party is that organization and African Internationalism is that theory.

The Party is the advanced detachment of the African working class and African Internationalism is the theory that Chairman Omali Yeshitela developed to explain the world and how to change it.

In order to overturn the colonial contradiction, and all contradictions that are faced by Africans in Colombia, on the Continent, and wherever else they may by forcibly dispersed, it is integral that Africans join the Party to destroy these colonial borders and draw from the power of the African nation that is more than a billion strong.

And to that we say victory to the colonized people of so-called Colombia!

We say victory to African and Indigenous sovereignty!

¡Viva la revolución!

Long live the revolution!

¡Libertad en nuestra vida!

Freedom in our lifetime!

¡Uhuru!

Uhuru!

 

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