POPAYAN, Colombia–This nation known as the” Gateway to South America” has become the latest Latin American state to be shaken by widespread, anti-government demonstrations. More than 200,000 marchers turned out across Colombia last Thursday to protest against the administration of the right-wing president, Ivan Duque.
Since then, in major municipalities throughout this Andean person, the largely serene demonstrators have been met by notoriously harsh riot forces wielding truncheons and shooting tear gas and rubber missiles. Corps have occupied the streets in urban areas. Curfews prescribed. Territories closed. Foreign ” revolutionaries ” deported.
After a nonviolent start, by late Thursday night protesters are struggling back with homemade black-powder grenades and Molotov cocktails. A line of squabbles over the next few daytimes left at least four dead opponents, three dead police, and hundreds of others wounded and detained.
The marches continued into this week, as captains from a diverse regalium of groups–including students, the indigenous peoples, union workers, and small farmers–sought to force a dialogue with President Duque.
” These demonstrates pictured more than anything that Duque is completely out of touch with the general populace ,” said Gimena Sanchez-Garzoli, a Colombia expert at the Washington Office on Latin America( WOLA ), in an email to The Daily Beast.
The embattled Duque, who has honestly marked himself as a kind of South American Donald Trump, construed his approval rating reach an all-time low-toned of 26 percent in the run-up to the demonstrates.
” In many lanes, Duque represents the age-old way of doing things in Colombia where those in power are not accountable to the general populace and politics dishes as a route to access economic dominance and advance your personal … schedule ,” Sanchez-Garzoli wrote.
While covering the dissents in perturbed Cauca state–which remains one of Colombia &# x27; s most violent regions and an epicenter for drug-trafficking–I spoke with many demonstrators on a wide variety of issues that concerned them. Some spoke of austerity measures put in place by Duque’s regime, such as rolling back welfares, reducing the minimum wage, and trimming government funds for education and health care.
” We don’t have enough lab material to go around ,” said biology major Miguel Troyano, 18, a rookie at the state-funded University of Cauca.” And what we do have is in bad determine. We don’t even have enough chairs in the classrooms ,” said Troyano, his eyes red from teargas, and his cheeks white with milk, which is thought by many to be a remedy against the strangle gas.” Now they want to cut the school’s budget again. These are the kinds of things that have driven us[ students] out into the streets .”
An indigenous protester of the Guambiano culture, who passed her mentioned as Busrwaira, age 26, spoke of the ongoing persecution of indigenous people.( More than 700 indigenous communities and other community leaders have been murdered since the beginnings of 2016.)” They must stop invading our territory, killing our parties, and stealing our resources ,” Busrwaira said.” Those on the right want to silence us, because they say we[ indigenous people] oppose economic growing. But we require respect, and we won’t be kept gentle .”
Still others accused Duque and his allies of gratifying exclusively to big businesses and affluent elites.
” He’s just another Trump ,” said Afro-Colombian demonstrator Alvaro Sinisterra, 28.” He’s corrupted, and prejudiced, and his government is completely incompetent .”
But if there was one topic all of the opponents I spoke with agreed on, it was Duque’s mishandling–some would say purposely sabotaging–of the historic peace agreement forged by President Juan Manuel Santos that dissolved Bogota’s 50 -year war against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia( FARC) in 2016.
Since Duque’s election in 2018, he has failed to implement key elements of that peace deal, according to his connoisseurs. They allege him, for example, of failing to implement ratified indigenous rights protection measures. And of rejecting crop substitution platforms for rural farmers who ripen coca, the main ingredient in cocaine. Those gaffes, combined with the ongoing, unsolved assassinations of social commanders and onetime FARC policemen, have driven many of the guerrillas back into the jungle.
“[ Duque] is destroying the peace agreement, and accompanying back the fight ,” says Sinisterra in the midst of the demonstration. He traveled 12 hours by bus to join the march in Cauca’s capital of Popayan. Sinisterra likewise mentions the return of” false positives “– extrajudicial military killings of civilians aimed at raising the body count for measurements in the field. The regime’s cover-up of eight minors killed in such a pattern thrust Duque’s defense minister to resign earlier this month, and further fanned the ignites of protest.
” We is common knowledge that the guerrillas did to our communities. Nobody knows better than we do. And now, because of this government, they’re taking up their grease-guns again ,” Sinisterra said.
WOLA’s Sanchez-Garzoli agreed that dejection over the botched accords are at the heart of the protest crusade 😛 TAGEND
” A lot of beliefs were raised[ that] the peace process was going to not only end the internal armed conflict with the FARC but also radically change politics in Colombia ,” Sanchez-Garzoli said.
” Supporters of the[ agreement] were expecting not just a demobilization but a realignment of society so that it was more equitable in terms of politics, fiscals, illustration, and delivery of land and natural resources. They expect to see for there to be an opening of the democratic room . . .[ But] the political and fiscal nobilities freaked out and joined forces to guarantee their hold on power through the Executive Branch .” That is, through President Duque.
” Duque came in trying to bulldoze the peace agreement ,” Sanchez-Garzoli said,” but the seeds of change in favor of peace were already sown .”
Chile, Ecuador, and Bolivia have all been roiled by protest movements of late. And in each of those cases, the demonstrators were able to push their respective governments to enact popular conversion. Chile and Ecuador was necessary to freeze particular austerity measures, while controversial Bolivian president Evo Morales was driven out of office wholly, even as counterprotesters declared him the victim of a coup.
Other recent popular uprisings in Nicaragua and Venezuela were less effective, but still generated big turnouts and captured headlines various regions of the world.
Some of these nations’ rulers are left-wing, some are right-wing, some authoritarian, some not. So what following theme might there be underlying the spread of these shifts?
When I placed that question to Sanchez-Garzoli, she indicated by the aged populist mottoes and creeds are not working any more. A deficiency of opennes and plausible leadership has led to a fundamental loss of trust.
” Underlying all demonstrates is the issue of corruption ,” Sanchez-Garzoli said, and that is regardless of where a given administration falls on the left-right political spectrum.
Another factor is rampant inequality–derived mainly from neoliberal policies that benefit elites and multinationals while promoting “‘ us or them’ approach to politics where the champion takes all, demonizes opponents, and gives on to power at all costs .”
Indigenous protester Busrwaira pointed to another reason she was willing to sally out and get teargassed day in day out. Standing on a street corner, dressed in her people’s traditional cape and hat and carrying a ceremonial organization, she said:” We must make them to protect the Earth Mother ,” she said.” To stop killing her. To stop raping her in the name of capitalism .”
That resonated something Sanchez-Garzoli had said about ecological concerns also has become a common motorist of the recent” Latin American Spring .”
” These rallies are linked to the unease that younger contemporaries am thinking about how the older generations are not protecting them from the negative consequences of poor environmental management[ and] the converted economic system ,” she said, and went on to cite climate change as a incite ingredient, especially among the younger marchers.
” Many youths are concerned about their own future ,” Sanchez-Garzoli said. And so they examine these mass protests and the helper cruelty that so often comes with them,” as the only way of altering things .”