By Felipe Vera
On September 21, thousands of students and youth continued combative demonstrations in the streets of Colombia. Despite the ruling class’s attempts at repressing the growing popular protest movement, with tanks on the one hand and talks of police reform on the other, the youth have not relented in their explosive resistance.
Following the combative actions from September 9 through 11 in response to the police murder of Javier Ordoñez, during which dozens of police command posts were vandalized and incinerated and 12 protesters were gunned down, the popular protests have erupted like a bursting valve which cannot be contained. Over 4,000 students and youth took over the streets of Medellin and another 1,000 did the same in Bogota.
In Bogota, students and youth began by raising posters of youth who have been killed in the struggle by the Colombian state and rallied under the slogans “against police repression” and “for the defense of the rights of the people.” They targeted and burned posters at the facilities of RCN, which revolutionary Colombian news source El Comunero Prensa states, “has played a clear role in spreading the ideas of the most backward sectors and arch-reactionaries of Colombia.”
In Medellin, several thousand protesters took to the streets, putting up revolutionary posters and graffiti across the walls, attacking police command posts and banks, as well as forming barricades. Unable to withstand the tanks that were launching teargas, protesters were forced to disperse.
This only reaffirms the laws of revolutionary war, that it is sometimes necessary to retreat when the enemy’s forces are stronger—this however, does not diminish or negate the necessity of rebellion. It only shows that the people must preserve their forces and strike back stronger, more organized, and more coordinated. Despite being met with tanks and armored police vehicles, many continued their resistance, launching Molotov cocktails and forcing some police to temporarily retreat.
The people’s struggle across Colombia has risen to new heights with thousands taking the streets against the police and other ruling class institutions, becoming more explosive and combative as demonstrated by the destruction of multiple police command posts and banks. Unable to quell this rebellion with brute force, the ruling class has pulled out another trick in their arsenal of counterinsurgency, beginning to “debate” the question of “police reform.”
As addressed in a document signed by the Student Movement in Service of the People (MESP), the Popular and Rebel Student Movement (MERyP), and the Revolutionary Youth League (LJR):
“The much-talked about ‘police reform’ really seeks to give the people the illusion that there can be a good police force, it seeks to cover up the reactionary essence of the Old State and its police, trying to legitimize them before the people, to make us believe that this can change with a legal reform and that it is not necessary to take to the streets, fight and organize to demand our rights and to build a new popular state through social revolution. In short, the ‘police reform’ seeks to change one thing so that everything remains the same, thus temporarily appeasing the rebellion of the people and the construction of their independent and combative organizations.”
The mass uprising across Colombia serves as a significant lesson for the youth, protesters, and revolutionaries across the US in the struggle for Black lives. Despite confronting an enemy with greater weaponry, resources, and manpower, the people outnumber them and are evidently capable of dealing serious blows. If Colombian protesters can burn down dozens of police command posts, we must pay close attention and take note.
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