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Colombia’s social explosion in a turbulent Spain

If we allow ourselves to be influenced by the multiplicity, creativity and size of the mobilisations throughout Spain protesting against repression in Colombia and in solidarity with the National Strike that country, we might sense that in the last few weeks there has been a radical change in public opinion among Colombians resident in Spain (nearly 300,000 including those whose status has not been regularised) and among a good part of the Spanish population.


Miguel Angel Ferris

Sectors of the Colombian diaspora traditionally distanced from any type of public criticism of their country’s governments, especially the youth – until now distanced from politics – and newly-empowered women are making up, along with the usual militant movements, a genuine popular response on the streets of a country that has just commemorated the tenth anniversary of the uprising by the 15-M “indignant” protest movement among more doubts and criticisms than certainties. In recent weeks there have been prominent protests all over Spain against the strong violence used by three colonial states: One is the one that has criminally bombarded Israeli-occupied Palestine.

Another is the one that is taking the territory of the Sahara by force and with the complicity of the Western powers, forcing Spain to change its stance on the subject and driving 8,000 young people to cross the border into Ceuta illegally. And a third state is the one where Colombian creole elites, heirs of the vice-royalty, subject their people to blood and fire to maintain their ancestral domination.

In this context and with the social and economic crisis generated by the pandemic affecting broad sectors of the population, the party that emerged from the 15-M movement, Podemos, is taking stock of what has been achieved since the massive and sustained indignation of Spaniards against corruption and social cutbacks in 2011 and its management in the first progressive government after the dictatorship, with the implementation of protective measures for the population affected by the recent crisis of employment and income.

The process of substituting the leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, has been accelerated. The purpose has been to respond to the offensive by the far and neoliberal right, fired up by the success of the post-fascist candidate, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, to the leadership of the Community of Madrid. The elites have tried to assail the central power and force a general election or, at least, discredit the PSOE-Podemos coalition government.

Podemos’s congressional process has put in place Ione Belarra and a new, mostly feminist leadership team whose future aspiration is an alliance with other sectors of the left and the capture of the Green vote, so lacking a home party in Spain.

At the same time, the political prisoners of the “procés” towards the independence of Catalonia, subjected to a national public debate on the convenience and legality of their forthcoming pardons, have become a bargaining chip to stabilise the political map of the Spanish state.

This has happened after several electoral victories by pro-independence parties in this historic nationality which, following the largest peaceful and popular mobilisations since the death of Franco, aspires to recognition of its self-government by the whole of the European Union.

Both uprisings in Spain’s recent history, the 15-M and the Catalan one, like the one that is breaking out now in the squares and streets of Colombia, have a similar background.

They are about the need for the will and the sovereignty of the people to be recognised beyond the empty words of “formal democracies” and their judicial, media and repressive apparatus at the service of a voracious elite that does not hesitate to resort to illegitimate violence, defamation through the media and connivance with the far right to snuff out any attempt to change the status quo altering the supposed social peace.

It is time to knock down the inherited statues, erected by those who always wrote history to their advantage, the victors, the new emerging classes or states that tried to freeze the application of human and citizens’ rights and who sooner or later will see, as they are seeing right now in Peru, the failure of a liberticidal and centralist model of neoliberal capitalism defeated in the streets and at the polls.

(Translated by Philip Walker – Email: – Fotos: La Oreja Roja

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