A series of events took place around the country last week to raise awareness of the ongoing political situation in the Latin American nation Colombia. Audiences in Derry, Belfast, Galway, Cork and Dublin found out about the severe political repression that has plagued the people for decades, and they also found about the growing social movements coming about to challenge this repression.
On Monday 7th November, West Belfast was host to a welcome and diverse gathering of radicals, activists and enthusiasts. Upwards of 50 people bore witness to the testimony of Javier Orozco Peñaranda, politically exiled from his homeland due to his prominent positions within Colombia’s main trade union (CUT) and the National Council of Peasant and Indigenous Organisations.
Throughout the public meeting entitled ‘Colombia: the new wave of social protest and the dirty war against the people’, an eager audience heard gut wrenching testimony gathered by a human rights delegation from Asturias. Farmers, students, trade unionists and indigenous peoples testified as to the true nature of the Colombian oligarchy’s dirty war against the people. Displacement, torture, collusion, murder and exile – themes that resonated with many of those present.
The meeting, however, lurched from ‘heart rendering’ to ‘heartening’ when Javier’s overriding message became clear – that although oppressed, the Colombian people are not victims. Through both speaking up and striking out, the Colombian masses’ resistance of victimhood is surpassed only by their resistance to the Colombian establishment, its rightwing death squads and their international sponsors.
Chairing the event, John McCusker, éirígí Six County Chairperson, said, “While we all know the headline events, such as the recent murder of FARC-EP Commander Alfonso Cano, there are many thousands of names, those disappeared, murdered or exiled by the Colombian oligarchy, which we don’t hear.
“Likewise, there are many thousands engaged in active resistance that we don’t see. The guerrilla, the student, the worker, the farmer and the indigenous – all members of a social movement sweeping the country. Unlike Cano, important as he was, the social movement cannot be executed in the jungle, for they till the fields, they control the factories, they study the past and, collectively, they struggle for the future.
“Both Javier and Pepe Gutiérrez of Grupo Raíces (Grúpa Fréamhacha) have given stark testimony tonight and for that we are thankful. The seeds of solidarity have been sown and will, without doubt, grow into something substantial.”
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