Stand With The People Of Colombia! End State Violence And Repression!
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) expresses its solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of Colombia as reports of intensifying state repressions and of human rights violations continue to soar.
The ongoing mass demonstrations have spread from provincial capital cities and across Colombia, largely led by worker groups, unions, Indigenous Peoples and student groups in response to the proposed tax reforms by the government of Pres. Ivan Duque. The protests that have become a national strike continue into a growing call against social inequality, corruption and state repression.
According to reports, these now-canceled tax reforms would have raised taxes on household products, gasoline and other utilities, which would have affected millions of Colombian peoples, particularly worsening the already vulnerable situation for IP, who are already struggling with the health and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 with inadequate assistance from the government. The Colombian government claimed that these tax reforms were necessary in stabilising the country, with its economy and state budget severely affected by the pandemic. And yet, they have also been reportedly “pushing for some questionable spending, including expensive arms purchases from the United States.”
Such claims by the Colombian government proved to be a far cry from the lived realities of Colombia’s most vulnerable sectors, which have insisted that these unfair tax reform proposals would have only benefited the rich and imposed heavier burdens on them. Reports citing Colombia’s National Administrative Department of Statistics state that the country’s poor increased by 6.8% in 2020, with 3.5 million people falling into poverty, and 42.5% of all Colombians are living below the poverty line.
Indigenous Peoples in Colombia, together with peasants and Afro-Colombian, have long battled with poverty, forced displacement and landlessness due to land grabbing, violence, cartels and armed conflicts weaponized for resource plunder. Large indigenous lands, covering vast Amazon forests, have been targeted by expanding extractive projects and cattle ranching.
In resistance, the Minga Indigena has gathered thousands of activists and indigenous communities in major cities in contribution to the fight for their territories and for people’s rights against the Duque government’s neoliberal policies against labor, tax and pension.
These mass demonstrations were met with violent police and military response. Human rights organisations have recorded more than 2,000 cases of violence against protesters, including 1,000 arbitrary arrests, with more than 40 deaths and dozens of disappearances and attacks among the ranks of protesters.
We at IPMSDL vehemently condemn the brute force shown by police and military, escorting armed assailants who have attacked IP activists and rights defenders.
We continue to call on everyone to stand in solidarity with the people of Colombia, together with Indigenous Peoples braving repression and fascism. As we end the solidarity week for Colombia peoples, the IPMSDL salute the unwavering bravery and determination of IP rights activists and advocates in Colombia.
Long live international solidarity!
Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator