In Colombia more than 100,000 people affiliated to the Minga of Farmers, Rural, Ethnic and Popular Sectors [Minga is an indigenous term for collective action] will undertake a national protest beginning on May 30th with the following major demands:
Opposition to the development model favoured by the Colombian Government, which has led to the following results: 6 million internally displaced people and about 6 million exiles and emigrants; 8 million hectares taken from rural, black and indigenous communities in the last 20 years; and 409 mining concessions to exploit páramos [environmentally sensitive moorlands] granted to multinationals and domestic investors.
Fulfilment of the agreements signed after the Rural Strikes and Mingas of 2013 and 2014 and the indignados protests of 2015. Also that the Government should enter negotiations on the demands presented after the protests of 24 January and 17 March 2016 which relate to the privatisation of enterprises providing basic public services and the issues of health, employment and low wages.
To guarantee the exercise of political opposition which is affected by paramilitarism, persecution, arrests, threats and the murder of 139 activists, both men and women, in the last 18 months. Also to end the criminalisation of social protest and to annul the Public Security Law which is anti-democratic and the new police laws, and to end the brutal repression by the police Mobile Riot Squad (ESMAD) against the political opposition and the poorest sectors of the population.
The Colombian Peoples’ Congress (Europe) and many European internationalists hereby declare our support for the protest beginning on May 30th, and we demand that the Government cease once and for all its systematic hostile campaigns against social movements, the most recent of which was led by the Governor of the North Santander region William Villamizar and the President of the Republic Juan Manuel Santos. Their statements about the protests in the Catatumbo region, accusing them of armed revolt, are a continuation of the Colombian State’s tradition of criminalising social protest and political opposition and thereby creating conditions for paramilitary groups to act with impunity.
Different social sectors, native peoples, trade unions, popular groups, the women’s movement and migrants’ organisations declare emphatically that the country needs peace with social and environmental justice, which in turn necessitates a negotiated end to the armed conflict, and we therefore support the processes of dialogue and agreements with the FARC and the ELN. We are nevertheless convinced that to bring peace to Colombia requires real solutions to the social, political and economic conflict, which will only be possible if there are guarantees for the active, decisive and binding participation of popular communities regarding the development model, free trade agreements and all other issues which affect us in terms of our rights.
Peace means decent housing, food sovereignty, free education, health care for all men and women. Peace means work, defence of the environment, to struggle against all forms of discrimination and patriarchy. Let’s make it possible, in Colombia and wherever we live.
Colombian Peoples’ Congress – Europe
29 January 2016