Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses its strongest solidarity with the people’s movement and political prisoners of Colombia, facing the U.S.-backed right-wing regime of Ivan Duque, police murder and targeted assassinations, and harsh repression of mass protests.
Thousands of people in Colombia have been marching for the past eight days against the tax policy of the right-wing Duque administration, supported by the United States and also involved in U.S.-directed regime change operations targeting Venezuela, Bolivia, and other progressive governments throughout Latin America.
This movement has faced brutal repression, with often U.S.-provided weaponry directed against these popular marches. Even after the Duque government claimed to withdraw the reforms, it has continued to escalate the repression. This national strike is a rebellion against neoliberalism and the brutality of capitalism against workers, students, Indigenous people and the masses of Colombia. As noted by the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, “The people’s rejection of the Duque government’s policies led to the National Strike last April 28 and their public anger has escalated to a national outcry over intensifying poverty, unemployment, and class inequality exposed by the pandemic last year.”
Between 6am on April 28 and 10am on May 4, 2021, ESMAD (the “Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squad”) and Colombian Armed Forces killed at least 26 protesters, committed 1181 cases of police violence, sexually violated nine women, shot 17 people in the eyes, committed 988 arbitrary detentions, and over 80 persons have been reported missing. Samidoun joins the ILPS, of which it is a member organization, in strongly condemning the political repression and fascist attacks against the people by Duque’s regime which is supported by his oligarch cohorts, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and U.S. imperialism. Just like the other fascist regimes across the globe, the Colombian state has weaponized the COVID-19 pandemic to terrorize the people to further consolidate political and economic power.
These crimes in Colombia have been armed and funded by the United States. As noted by the Alliance for Global Justice, ESMAD itself was an initiative created by Plan Colombia, launched by U.S. president Bill Clinton. While popular and mass movement leaders in Colombia, including trade unionists, Indigenous activists, and student organizers, are being assassinated at a rate of more than one victim per day, the U.S. imperialist presence has escalated and intensified the violence, with both Democratic and Republican support for increased military and police funding to these Colombian forces, involved in vicious repression at home and in alliance with U.S. regime-change schemes targeting progressive governments elsewhere in Latin America.
There are thousands of political prisoners in Colombia, the highest number in the Americas. Since the peace accords of 2016, in which the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) disbanded, the agreements have gone unfulfilled while at least 137 former fighters have been assassinated and at least 738 civilian activists. Political prisoners from social movements throughout the country have been targeted for incarceration, including protesters challenging a Canadian oil company, Frontera Energy, causing significant environmental damage.
The responsibility of U.S., Canadian and other Western corporations and governments for the ongoing crimes in Colombia is apparent. Indeed, the U.S. also holds Colombian political prisoners — notably Simon Trinidad, a former spokesperson for the FARC. Mark Burton, Trinidad’s lawyer, highlighted the harsh conditions to which he is subjected as a U.S. political prisoner: “Prisoners who are considered enemies of the state are often sent to the penitentiary Florence ADX, popularly known as Supermax, as the prisoner’s ability to communicate with the outside world is tightly controlled. In general, prisoners are cut off from contacts outside the prison. Simon was sent there after his conviction in Washington D.C., where it took the government four trials to convict him of one count of conspiracy. The rightist forces were unable to silence Simon through assassination, but the Colombian and American governments have been able to silence him by imprisonment in Supermax.”
Amid all of this, the right-wing Colombian regime has also openly allied itself with the Zionist settler-colonial project in Palestine. Duque pledged to open a new trade office to promote commerce with the Israeli regime and Israeli corporations, amid a growing Palestinian, Arab and global movement to boycott Israel. This is nothing new — Hugo Chavez, late Venezuelan president, Bolivarian leader and notable supporter of justice for Palestine, called Colombia the “Israel of Latin America.” However, Duque has intensified the close relationship with trade and “security” deals with the Israeli occupation. Building the movement to boycott Israel on an international level can work to strengthen our alliances of mutual solidarity to fight the far-right and imperialist forces that threaten lives from Colombia to Palestine.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network highlights the shared struggle of the people of Colombia and Palestine, and the deadly role that U.S. imperialism plays around the world in suppressing popular movements for justice and liberation. We urge the immediate release of all political prisoners in Colombian and U.S. jails. In Palestine, there are nearly 4,500 Palestinian political prisoners whose ongoing incarceration is funded and backed by $3.8 billion annually in U.S. military aid.
Right now, over 500 Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah, occupied Jerusalem, are being threatened with forced eviction from their homes in order for their property to be granted to Israeli Jewish colonial settlers. The ongoing Nakba targeting the Palestinian people is carried out by the Zionist state with the full support of U.S. imperialism and its allies in Canada, Europe, the UK and elsewhere.
From Colombia to Palestine, U.S. imperialism has brought terror, destruction, plunder and repression to the peoples of the world. Resistance is necessary in order to defend the people’s rights, win freedom for the prisoners, and break the chains of oppression, imperialism, colonialism, Zionism, capitalism and reaction in all forms.
Long live international solidarity! Freedom for all political prisoners! Victory to the people of Colombia! Victory for Palestine!