#SOS Colombia

The Colombian people in Meanjin (Brisbane) made a call today for international support to overcome corruption of their government, historic disparity in wealth, extreme poverty, and the merciless killing by their government security forces putting down protests across that Amazonian country. Two years since Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) laid down their weapons former President Álvaro Uribe and his puppet Iván Duque have given the green light for extreme repression by soldiers, police and armed militia funded by drug money and corruption.

Álvaro Uribe and his puppet Iván Duque

Using a combination of dance, song, street theatre, costumes, games, poetry and music the Colombians made their present felt in front of Queensland’s Parliament building. They invited solidarity groups from Aboriginal, Palestinian and Myanmar backgrounds to lend their support to the economic struggles faced by the Colombian people. It was a spirited display highlighting the effects of capitalism in a country that had thrown off Spanish colonialism, had found its indigenous and African roots but had not yet rejected chauvinism. After two hours they still played and sang the national anthem hoping to be rescued by democracy. I wish them good luck. For them, gone are the binary struggles of capitalism versus socialism, not for them the united workers of the world.

Meanjin is a far cry from Bogotá, this dance group would be surrounded by armed militia and hit with tear gas in Colombia.

People from neighbouring countries came to lend support and solidarity, from Venezuela, Guatemala, from the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society.

Inside the country only the National Liberation Army (ELN) retained its arms – the only group capable of resisting an onslaught by the military. The National Liberation Army (Spanish: Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN) is a revolutionary left-wing armed group involved in the continuing Colombian conflict, which has existed in Colombia since 1964. The ELN advocate a composite communist ideology of Marxism-Leninism and liberation theology. In 2013, it was estimated that the ELN forces consisted of between 1,380 and 3,000 guerrillas. According to former ELN national directorate member Felipe Torres, one fifth of ELN supporters have taken up arms. They fight in the jungle near the Venezuelan border. The security forces can’t break them because of their guerilla style of warfare and knowledge of the terrain.

There was a very touching ceremony for those who had lost their lives in the protest. Their names were read out and a person from the crowd came forward and lay on the gound. A trumpeter played the Last Post.

I stayed till the end of the Colombian rally … it became quite chauvinistic with a playing of the national anthem and a dance depicting a romance between a young couple. 

Ian Curr
16 May 2021