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200 years of independence in Colombia? There is nothing to celebrate!

category venezuela / colombia | imperialism / war | opinion / analysis author Wednesday July 21, 2010 22:01author by Grupo Antorcha Libertaria Report this post to the editors

Today, 200 years after the cry of “independence”, we live under slavery and despotism well disguised in various masquerades in our lives. One of the main achievements of the “liberators” was indeed to expel the Spanish empire, what ended up being nothing more than a distraction, not only for the creation of a new local ruling elite, but also to allow other empires to step in against the interests of our own people: while in 1500 they talked about civilisation, on 2001 they came to talk about the “war on terror”.

200 years of independence in Colombia? There is nothing to celebrate!

200 years of injustice, exploitation, inequality and war against our people: that’s the real meaning of the 200th anniversary of independence of our Republic. The celebrations of this false independence seem to be well rooted in a number of repeated lies, such as the supposed abolition of slavery and that a tyrannical empire was kicked out of our territory, so a criollo and sovereign government could be put in place. At the time, it was thought to bring about liberation and self-determination, but it was nothing but the historical conflict between a new emergent class and foreign domination, between the white Spaniards and the white criollos, the latter representing the new economic and political tendencies: the greed and corruption that became the trademark of the Colombian oligarchy. Today, after two hundred years, we cry out with all of our energies that there is nothing to celebrate. There was never a real project of independence and we still live under the subjection, exploitation and oppression of empires, with their post modern economic and political enclaves, while mass media tame the public opinion.

History repeats itself

500 years ago, when the invaders reached American shores, they came to plunder and swiftly they enslaved the Indians and the Negroes. They robbed our lands and wealth, they brought physical as well as spiritual slavery, in order to give legitimacy to their greed and force; the cross and the weapons went hand in hand. Their reasons were to bring civilisation to “pagan peoples”, to “animals without a soul”. The creation of a schooling system, of institutions to manage knowledge, was done with an eye in the difficult tasks of ideological control in the short term, the conversion, but also, with the final aim of perpetuating a certain system of political and economic relations [1]. The creation of casts and of divine and race privilege, became the worst possible yoke for an oppressed population. This is a sad story of ethnocide and despotism, something that appears in the history books as such, as our history [2]. The comparative analysis we intend of doing of that time of absolutism and tyranny, seems to be an impossible task in a country like this, were democracy and market freedoms are supposed to flourish, together with business prosperity and a high technology army.

However, it is our very basic common sense which doesn’t allow us to swallow all of the lies manufactured by those in power.

Today, 200 years after the cry of “independence”, we live under slavery and despotism well disguised in various masquerades in our lives. One of the main achievements of the “liberators” was indeed to expel the Spanish empire, what ended up being nothing more than a distraction, not only for the creation of a new local ruling elite, but also to allow other empires to step in against the interests of our own people: while in 1500 they talked about civilisation, on 2001 they came to talk about the “war on terror”. Back in the days they brought the cross and weapons, now they bring seven new military bases for the US. In the past they openly looted our resources, now it is a more generalised tendency through multinational corporations and foreign investment. Back in the days, with the creation of institutions with the monopoly of knowledge, that were in charge of the religious and civil indoctrination; today we have the radio, the press and the TV.

Imperialist offensive in Colombia

During 2007, the US was going through one of its worst financial crises in its history, caused by the banking system speculation, one of the scourges of Colombia as well.

The loans of mortgage credit to people that lacked the ability to pay back was the main point of crisis –but this practice had got the US out of the recession affecting the financial system in 2000. The capitalist contradiction became evident: on the one hand, it was increasingly easier to get credit for mortgage while at the same time, wages were stagnant and the family income was shrinking, what led to the bankruptcy of a number of US banks, with impacts felts all over the world [3].

Here it becomes obvious how the US imperialist offensive is responding to the logic of the capitalist system, since it creates trade and military strategies to strengthen the control of its “backyard”, trying to minimize the financial crisis and perpetuate a system of production based on the exploitation of the resources of the entire world.

Colombia is a country with strategic importance for imperialism, thus the new 7 military bases are part of a tactic old as colonialism: that is, military presence in order to guarantee the existence of Colombian regimes in a situation of serfdom to yankee imperialism, that are in a position to carry on counter-insurgency warfare, politics directed against popular struggles, that can restrain social change, keep territorial control over Colombian resources, while it favours foreign investment. At a regional level, we are talking of 11 military bases (counting those in Panama as well) for the destabilization of “anti-imperialist” governments, those who oppose US interests, and these bases also give the possibility to directly intervene countries in the same old fashion of coups d’Etat as in Honduras (June 28th, 2009), when president Zelaya was toppled from office with the direct participation of the military base of Palmerola in that country.

It is not the first time that imperialism defends its interests and comes out of economic crises through warfare. The multiplication of military bases (800 all over the world) and the re-activation of the US IVth Fleet, with nuclear weapons, sailing on the Pacific Ocean are unequivocal proof that we are witnessing a come back of the most blatant forms of direct military control. But as we have already said, militarism is just one element in this capitalist strategy [4].

The signing up and implementation of Free Trade Agreements in coalition with the most reactionary governments such as that of Uribe Vélez, who not only signs up FTAs with the US, but also with the EU and Canada, will lead to the privatization, to multinational competition to control industry and agriculture, to labour deregulation, to chronic unemployment and the deterioration of working conditions and implementation of State terrorism. Also, it will lead to clauses that will permit military occupations such as that in Costa Rica on July 1st, when parliament approved the “station” of 7,000 to 13,000 US troops using for this purpose the security chapter of the FTA approved in 2007 [5].

Living in the colonies

At a domestic level, the reproduction of the economic and political system designed by imperialism is fatal. Land and wealth concentration by families that historically owned most of the country; political monopoly by the “experts”; the creation of laws that naturally go against the interests of the majority of the population; the creation of paramilitary squads as part of the imperialist strategy of repression; the imprisonment and torture of social activists; the manufacture of “truth” by TV stations such as Caracol, RCN and very soon by the new third channel, together with all of the media; the looting of our natural resources by multinational corporations; the control of the banking system, that had displaced 500,000 families because of their system of mortgage credits; and a whole mechanism of domination of every aspect of our lives –that is the real face of dependency of this society, more reactionary and conservative each passing day.

In the countryside, biofuels and transgenics are a threat to the lives of peasants and indigenous people, and to the food systems of millions of Colombians. The military and paramilitary pressure is too frequent, there is systematic murder of peasants and indigenous people, there is legal displacement through laws such as the aborted “Statute of Rural Development” that in its article 123 bans the creation of indigenous reservations, so the indigenous peoples can be included in the “dispositions of territorial planning”, generating forced displacement of people such as the Wounáan, Embera, Eperara, Tule and Awá etc. [6].

The youth suffers from permanent repression, they are also murdered and presented as “guerrillas killed in combat”, those are the “false positives” as they are technically called in order to disguise the ugly reality of massacres perpetrated by the State. There are university students disappeared, in prison and murdered by the riot police (ESMAD), threatened by paramilitary squads such as “Águilas Negras” and neonazi bands, and there are pamphlets with death threats to anyone they deem anti-social (prostitutes, drug addicts, delinquents) circulating constantly.

Fourth Generation Warfare and Social Warfare

The definition of the “Fourth Generation Warfare” comes from a document by the US military written in 1989 which was named “The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation”. It describes basically an unofficial form of confrontation against a civilian-military objective, a counter insurgency confrontation which combines tactics, such as “de-centralised operational groups” and paramilitary squads, to carry violent actions, sabotage and attrition.

This combines also the media warfare, the manufacture of lies, misinformation, and psychological manipulation from the mass media such as CNN (locally, it would be the role of Caracol and RCN) [7].

To sum up, is low intensity warfare as we know it in our society. Its objective is no different to that of international warfare, that is to cover the direct conflict between social classes, both internally and externally, and thus “prevent conflict to be associated with the term that defines it the best: social warfare, because of its social implications” [8].

From this perspective, we understand the social warfare as the historical tendency of class struggle and our struggle, that of the oppressed, needs to take back and strengthen its anti capitalist and anti Statist nature for us to start talking of a real independence. We proclaim anarchism as a revolutionary project, of social transformation of life as a whole. This is why we share the views of the Federación Anarquista Uruguaya (FAU) that “our critique and project is not limited to the uprising, the protest, the revolt, but it matures in a model of libertarian society which is unequivocally socialist, in a strategy for a revolutionary rupture, with a militant and combative style of permanent agitation aimed at big scale social transformations” [9].

The concept of social warfare requires us to understand ourselves in a concrete context, of permanent crisis of the political and economic system. It represents our capacity, as individuals and organisations, to understand social struggle as a part of our lives. It requires the capacity of grassroots organisations to analyze their struggle, to formulate strategies and tactics able to face the onslaught of those with power. It requires coherence between means and ends, re-think the libertarian methodologies, direct action as our capacity to do a different style of politics, out of government institutions and out of their democratic and alienated domination systems, that is to promote anarchist practice. To think of our social warfare should be helpful to better understand the type of conflict we are living, to define actions, alliances, projects and strategies that allow us for real opportunities to attack power.

Nowadays, more than ever before, we are after the road for our real independence and liberation, we fight for justice and freedom. As a comrade said: “we live in a permanent state of warfare against the State, capitalism, the system and their dirty dungeons”.

Grupo Antorcha Libertaria
20 de Julio del 2010


1. Jaramillo Jaime, El proceso de la educación en el virreinato, Nueva Historia de Colombia, Vol. I.
2. Colmenares Germán, Economía y la sociedad coloniales 1550-1800, Nueva Historia de Colombia, Vol. II.
3. Entrevista Realizada a Jorge Beinstein; economista y Profesor Titular en la Universidad de Buenos Aires.
4. Renán Vega Cantor, Crisis y contraofensiva imperialista de Estados Unidos en América Latina, www.rebelió
5. Jose Antonio Gutiérrez, Ahora Costa Rica… EEUU y la militarización del Caribe,
6. Boletín Acción Directa, Abajo el estatuto de desarrollo rural, Grupo Antorcha Libertaria, Abril 2009.
7. Renán Vega, Op. Cit
8. F. Drein, Más allá de nuestras narices, Un acercamiento a la Estrategia. 2004
9. Federación Anarquista Uruguaya Declaración de Principios, Aprobada en el Xº Congreso (Montevideo, Marzo de 1993.

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