FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A New Hope for Peace in Colombia

“Pitiless glacial rain was falling in Bogota” on April 23, one observer said. Then, “as if by magic, that mute, lugubrious world fell apart as marchers rumbling by brought color, happiness, fraternal embrace, and hope.” They filled the Plaza Bolivar from all sides; 100,000 people had arrived in 2500 buses from all 28 Colombian departments.  They were, “the forgotten Colombia, the Colombia of young people, children, old people…men and women whose views were shaped on the land and in adversity.”

Speakers at this founding celebration of Marcha Patriotica called for a “second and definitive independence,” structural transformation, and peace with justice. Demands were heard for agrarian reform and access to health care and education. Marcha Patriotica “emanates from workers, small farmers, women trying to hold families together, indigenous peoples, and Afro-Colombians,” Nelson Lombana Silva writes. The movement seeks to integrate social movements and political parties. Planning started in 2010, the bicentennial year of liberation from Spanish rule.

Over two previous days, 4000 delegates representing 1700 social and political organizations, with two delegates each, had gathered at a convention center. They discussed Colombia’s political situation, outlined organizational structures, defined tasks, approved a political declaration, established commissions, and appointed a National Patriotic Council. Some 130 international guests were present. Plenary session speakers included: Voz newspaper director Carlos Lozano; Piedad Cordoba, leader of Colombians for Peace; Senator Gloria Inés Ramírez of the Alternative Democratic Pole (POLO); Jaime Caycedo, Communist Party secretary general and former Bogota city councilor; and Marcha organizers.

The movement’s political platform displays revolutionary aspirations. It notes “new dynamics of collective action in our country,” and “growing desire [for] exercise of politics linked to the many social and class conflicts.” The document proclaims a “vocation for power, while signaling the necessity for political change to overcome imperial domination and hegemony imposed by dominant classes over two centuries.” Marcha Patriotica is “not simply a tactic of alliances but is a process for building subjective consensus as to unifying the oppressed and exploited classes, our historic task.”

The platform calls for political solution of armed conflict; democratization of society, state, and economic model; alternative ways of life and production; human rights guarantees; “humanization of work,” reparations for victims; land reform and protection of rural people, educational reform based on “teaching for emancipation; a “culture of solidarity and transformation of the social order;” and lastly, Latin American integration, internationalism, and national independence.

The Liberal Party’s left wing headed by Piedad Cordoba and the Colombian Communist Party helped launch the Marcha Patriotica. National student organizations, the Fensuagro agricultural workers union, indigenous groups like the National Minga, small farmer groups, and protesters against the El Quimbo dam project were also instrumental.

Colombia is used to political projects aiming at left unity. The Patriotic Union (UP) and the Democratic Alliance, propelled by demobilized M-19 insurgents, emerged in the 1980’s. The recently established POLO electoral coalition, joined by the Communist Party, now suffers from internal divisions and disregard of social movements. Leaders issued a statement supporting the Marcha Patriotica, but POLO was unrepresented at the inaugural events.

Communist Party involvement with the UP and Marcha Patriotica suggests kinship of the two, which Marcha organizers deny. The UP came about because insurgents of the Revolutionary Army Forces of Colombia (FARC) abandoned armed struggle to enter electoral politics. The FARC now apparently has no role with the Marcha Patriotica.

Yet one clear sign of Marcha Patriotica importance is scapegoating it has provoked on the government’s part. President Juan Manuel Santos, other officials, and the media say Marcha Patriotica was a FARC idea and is infiltrated by the FARC. Evidence is cited derived supposedly from captured FARC computers, even though the Supreme Court earlier had discredited computer-based evidence used against journalists and other left wing political figures.  Soldiers and police throughout Colombia have monitored and harassed Marcha activists over several months, arresting and tailing many of them, threatening family members, and barging into homes. They interfered with travel to Bogota. Intelligence operatives watched over proceedings there.

The U.S. – allied Colombian government, protective of banking, landowning, mining, and drug-running interests, intimidates also through killings.  Under its auspices, 5000 activists associated with the UP were massacred.  Now, three Marcha organizers are dead, or feared dead. Victims are: Martha Cecilia Guevara Oyola, community leader in Caquetá, disappeared on April 20; Hernan Henrry Diaz, Fensuagro organizer responsible for getting 200 Putumayo people to Bogota, disappeared on April 18; and Mauricio Enrique Rodriguez, bodyguard for Carlos Lozano and others, killed on April 27.

Nevertheless, expectations for the Marcha Patriotica are high. According to its political declaration, “Colombian patriots arrived in Bogota to affirm the existence of collective dreams, to lay out routes of dignity, to open doors of hope just as did liberators for the first independence. We are participating in a new historical chapter, forged necessarily in the broadest possible popular unity.” 

W. T. Whitney Jr. is a retired pediatrician and political journalist living in Maine.

More articles by:

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a retired pediatrician and political journalist living in Maine.

December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail