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#Colombia: Preliminary assessment of the November 21 national strike

On November 21, Colombia was rocked by a national strike and huge demonstrations and clashes between riot cops and protestors. On November 22 amd November 23 the strikes and protests continued. New protests are announced for today. A first assessment by Grupo Via Libre.

Originally published by Grupo Via Libre. Translated by Enough 14.

The day of national civic strike held on Thursday November 21 has been an event of major historical proportions. As we warned in our previous analysis, the Centro Democrático government of Iván Duque was on the political defensive and faced with a major governability crisis. In this situation, the Uribista government, faced with the call for a strike, launched a campaign of terror against the call that included the threat of a curfew and deployment of the military, arbitrary expulsion of foreigners and closure of land borders, and more recently a wave of raids and detentions of political activists.

However, the government’s commitment to demobilization failed and triggered a social explosion. The positive influence of the popular rebellions in Latin America, especially the struggles in Ecuador and Chile, as well as the ongoing conflicts in the country such as the national teacher strike, the partial strike of public universities or the judicial suspension, in addition to a series of indigenous, feminist and environmental mobilizations, and the climate of popular boredom with the Duque government, aggravated by the fear campaign against unemployment itself, all came together to create this unprecedented political situation.

A great day of struggle shook Bogotá and much of the country for nearly 16 hours. In the national capital, hit by rain, the activity was organized in four major moments: 1) A first moment of activists with street agitation and small blockades located in the portals of Transmilenio de Suba, Norte, 20 de Julio and Sur, between 5:00 and 7:00 am led by neighborhood organizations, which achieved a significant impact on the mobility of the city. 2) A second moment of the mass movement, led by the trade union, student and popular movement, with the big march on the center of the city that easily registered 300,000 people mobilized between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm with huge numbers of education workers, state workers and workers from the private sector. At this very moment they joined the mobilizations of the public and private universities articulated in the National University, which summoned some 20,000 people, and the marches of territorial organizations of the southwest that converged from up to 5 different points to bring together some 10,000 people. 3) A third moment of localized youth anger, which spread between 5:00 and 7:00:00 pm, although with important antecedents and later extensions, where a sector of the popular and university youth clashed massively with the present force and the National Police Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squad (ESMAD) in different points of the city like 68th Avenue and later in the National University, Bolívar Square and then the entire historic center of the city, but above all the sector of Suba with Cali Avenue, where this protest lasted all day. 4) A fourth moment of spontaneous popular solidarity, which started at 7:00 pm developed massive pots and pans protests in popular neighborhoods and even in middle and upper class areas, with gatherings and new marches through various points of the city.

This day has produced more than 300 mobilizations in at least 100 cities and regions across the country, including dozens of simultaneous concentrations in the most populated cities, in which a total of more than one million people have been mobilized easily. At the same time, after the partial strike and the massive mobilization, there have been clashes between parts of the demonstrations and police forces in a substantial part of the country, as well as more marginal looting activities. The most dramatic situations of repression have occurred in the city of Cali, where a curfew has been declared, and in Manizales, where serious injuries have been reported as a result of police repression.

Today’s is a day of massive popular protest with elements of a general strike, which takes place in large and medium-sized cities, with an initial union leadership that later faded into a broader and eclectic popular explosion. The day has entered by its own merit into the history of those from below in the country. The 21st of November opens a wave of political rebellion, of which the outcome is open. The challenge of the anarchist militants and the popular movement in general, is to help turn the justified rage that overflows the streets today into popular organization and victory.

Long live the November 21st National Strike!

Long live the struggle!

Grupo Libertario Vía Libre

From the streets of Bogota, November 21, 2019.


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