For the past two weeks, Colombia’s trade union centres have been preparing a major national strike for 21 November. We expect it to be the largest in years and millions will mobilise against the austerity measures of Duque government endorsed by the IMF.
In less than two years in office, the “Uribista” (Uribe supporter) Duque has won popular repudiation with his policies of austerity and repression: two out of three Colombians reject the government’s management. It recently suffered a heavy electoral blow in the regional elections, worn down by major student protests against the lack of funding of education, the brutal repression of the Cauca Indians, the corruption scandals, the progress of the judicial process against former President Uribe, and the continued assassination of social leaders, indigenous people and former FARC combatants.
The national strike is being carried out against the government’s labour, tax and pension reform projects, which make up the so-called “Paquetazo” (a huge austerity plan) which involves labour flexibility for young people, less taxes for large companies and more taxes for workers, and the privatisation of the pension system. It is a strike against the underfunding and privatisation of state-owned enterprises.
Over 150 unions, guilds and associations join the call. They are also preparing to mobilise the Indigenous Minga (Quechua word for collective actions) and the students who demand compliance with the agreement signed last year on the budget for public education.
One organisation that adheres to the call, the United Collectives, calls on all workers and popular sectors to join, reflecting the spirit of the struggle: “from every house in the early morning of this 21, banging the pots and pans; from the union in its Assembly to discuss among its workers the need for a National Strike; from the neighbourhood in the Communal Action Board discussing the National Strike with the community; the bus and taxi drivers who cease the activity that day; the merchant who joins the strike and does not open his business; the young man who stops and blocks the roads to give the worker the excuse for not going to work; even the peasant, with the black people, the indigenous communities and the truck drivers, who block the highways making the National Strike effective, who will prevent the government from sabotaging it. Everyone united with dignity.
Duque’s government has taken military and police personnel out into the streets, and raids are already being carried out against the organisers of the strike, once again showing the government’s repressive disposition. Within the framework of the great struggles that are taking place in Latin America, it is crucial to surround with solidarity and support the Colombian workers, peasants, indigenous people and the youth, who will lead the 21 November strike.
International Workers’ Unity – Fourth International