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Issue #1539      14 March 2012

Patriotic March for real change in Colombia

A major political development in Colombia was foreshadowed recently with the announcement of the launch of the National Patriotic Council, the Patriotic March and the Open Meeting for Independence. The ambitious, ongoing project to reshape Colombian politics will be started on April 21, 22 and 23 with a convention to be held in the Colombian capital of Bogotá.

According to the movement’s organisers, “The Patriotic March and Open Meeting for Independence have been called to initiate a process fed by social organisations, popular, student, labour, peasant, Indigenous, Afro-Colombian, women, workers, unemployed labourers, street vendors and many others.

“It is a process that is taking shape in the heat of the commemoration of 200 years of struggle for independence. It is a longing that arises in the context of US military invasion of Colombian territory, colonial celebrations of stateless persons who are kneeling before our executioners, amid official encroachment of the commemoration by the heirs of those who left unfinished our emancipatory process begun more than 200 years ago, a memorial in the middle of the most heinous crimes by the state and the looting of our natural resources.”

Colombia declared its independence from Spain over two centuries ago but its sovereignty has long been undermined and its political process corrupted by dominant US economic interests and the presence of US military bases. Colombia is out of step with most of Latin America, which in recent times has opted for left-leaning governments and a break from dependence on the US.

China is fast replacing the US as the major trading partner of the countries of Latin America. Integration through institutions such as ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for Latin America), UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) MERCOSUR (Common Southern Market) and other regional organisations is continuing apace. There is a growing rejection of the US-dominated OAS (Organisation of American States). Going against this trend, Colombia has made no progress towards what has been termed its “second and definitive independence”. Its government recently concluded an unpopular free trade agreement with the US, for example.

“In the three days of the march we confirm that this new and full independence must be based on the recovery of national sovereignty, through a new patriotic government to break with all forms of explicit and veiled foreign domination and grant the Colombian people their central role as the holders of state power. A new, full independence is conceivable only through the structural transformation of the social inequalities that are unchanged from colonial times. Independence, land, a decent and dignified life for all Colombians! We proclaim this new and full independence as the only way for a political solution to armed social conflict, which for decades has bled our families.

“The call is to organise until a new power is created to completely eliminate political corruption, patronage, the delivery of natural resources and to restore sovereignty and achieve peace, promising to be true representative of the desire of each and all Colombians.

“Do not expect anything of the establishment. We call upon citizens to strive through the National Open and Permanent Meeting for respect for national sovereignty, redistribution of wealth, truth, justice and reparation for victims of forced displacement, disappearances, arbitrary detentions and all other crimes of state. We call on the Colombian people to regain their role in governing the country, taking direct control, seeking to resolve the problems hatched by the elites who have usurped our government for over 200 years.”  

Next article – Colombia’s political prisoners – growing pressure for freedom and justice

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