National Strike in Colombia: View From the Streets of Bogota

Published May 17, 2021

National Strike in Colombia: View From the Streets of Bogota

Since the beginning of the month, the people of Colombia have erupted in revolt in response to the Tax Reform Bill, which robs people of healthcare during the pandemic. However the concerns of the people have only just come to a head.

After decades of guerrilla struggle in the countryside, FARC signed a peace agreement in 2016, yet the Colombian state has continued to massacre former militants and wreak havoc on the villages that previously had been under their protection. Additionally the state has not rectified the problems that led to the armed struggle, such as land redistribution. Poverty and inequality have continued unabated. Additionally, the Colombian state has turned it’s war machine against the people. In the first months of 2021, at least 57 influential participants in social movements have been murdered, 20 of them Indigenous people, most of whom were from the province of Cauca. In addition, there were 158 femicides in the first three months of the year and several other massacres.

As more and people have risen up, the state has responded with violence, torture and rape, causing further indignation and more powerful responses in the street.

Here is a report from the streets on Bogota on what is happening.

Every day there are blockades in different parts of the city. The main focus of resistance is happening in marginal and working class neighborhoods, where every night there are confrontations with the police, but also paramilitaries. It’s very intense, like war.

In the countryside there are also many protests, blockades, and actions. Actually the most militant actions are happening in the countryside. They have to resist the military, police and paramilitaries.

Many things are happening every day. There are local neighborhood assemblies, where people are organizing. There are many cultural events of resistance, and if you go around the city, there are multiple blockades, from small groups to a few main areas of resistance where people are concentrated. For example, there is a place called Heroes in the north of the city, kind of a point where many marches cross. There are 6-7 places like this in Bogota where people concentrate. The most militant is Portal Las Americas, which is under heavy repression. If you go to a demonstration, you have to be careful if you are separated from others. The police prey on people in the back alleys.

There is a total block on information by the media and the government about the situation.