Tuesday, October 19

Colombia: Between ghosts and realities | Opinion

Protesters in Puerto Resistencia, the epicenter of protests against the government of Iván Duque, in Cali.
Protesters in Puerto Resistencia, the epicenter of protests against the government of Iván Duque, in Cali.ERNESTO GUZMÁN JR / EFE

The social outbreak that Colombia has been experiencing since last April 28 seems to have two realities. The first is that of the Government of Iván Duque; that of the ruling party, the Democratic Center; and that of a sector of society, especially those with greater economic stability. For them, with some variations or approaches, it is all about a conspiracy of the left, the return of communism, or a conspiracy of organized crime allied with communism. They blame Venezuela, the São Paulo Forum, among others.

The second explanation is that of the majority of experts, analysts and the general public: a deep crisis in the country that can be summarized, perhaps, in three big data. 1. In 2020, 7.1 million households in Colombia ate three meals a day, while in February 2021 it was only 5.4 million. This implies that 1.6 million families could not continue with that amount of daily ration due to the pandemic. In addition, 92,214 families went from eating three meals to a single plate a day, and another 9,010 households would not even have one meal a day. 2. Every four days a leader or social leader is assassinated in Colombia. 3. Colombia went back almost 20 years in terms of poverty reduction.

Those who believe in the first theory – that is, a conspiracy of communism – do so for two reasons. Some simply believe and replicate it out of ignorance. This means that their country model does not allow them to understand the socio-economic, political, social and security crisis that Colombia has. But there are also those who replicate and repeat this conspiracy theory as an electoral strategy. Right-wing sectors in particular have revived, in Colombia, the word communism. During the 2018 presidential campaign they used the word Castro-Chavism, but the two protagonists of that word are already dead, so now they have revived, again, that of communism, where they enclose everything that protests the deep crisis that the country is experiencing .

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The Executive of Iván Duque and the Government party are the main exponents of this theory under the idea of ​​winning votes in 2022. Said bet of looking for ghosts and not seeing the crisis in the country leads to the Government not having, nor can it have , as a strategy, a negotiated solution to the current crisis. That is why it has done the impossible to sabotage the negotiation with the national strike committee. Obviously, after six weeks there is a situation of erosion of unemployment, which makes some right-wing politicians believe that the demonstrations are going to disappear. In fact, the latest mobilizations have had little influx. Wear is normal. But, if you don’t negotiate, there will be another social outbreak in a few weeks. As always, the Duque government is trying to put out a fire with gasoline.

But beyond the next or next social outbreaks, the fact of not recognizing the crisis and making the version of an international conspiracy grow will cause the Colombian citizens to go out to vote in 2022 with great anger. The Colombian establishment has not understood that there is a generalized crisis in the system and they believe that, in the end, everything will go back to the way it was before. For this reason, the traditional parties negotiate bureaucratic positions in exchange for supporting the Government, they receive perks as a strategy to maintain their electoral flow and they believe that nothing will happen.

The political establishment, the national and local ruling class must understand that, if they do not change anything, if they do not reform anything, they are going to change them by force, the citizens will go out to vote with anger. In fact, today most projections say that the U Party will almost disappear, while the Democratic Center and Radical Change parties will lose a significant number of seats. The political map of 2022 will be very different from the current one. As is popularly said, it is better not to stretch the rubber so much because, suddenly, it bursts.

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