Colombia : Historic elections will define its future

By Jaime Amorín

The first round of the Colombian presidential elections will take place on May 29 this weekend, a day that could become a defining moment for a population that has suffered from aggression and violence. The elections have a high probability of being won by the left in the first round.

Colombia is less than 5 days away from the presidential election, but it is experiencing moments of tension due to the objectives to be accomplished: the first is to elect Gustavo Petro, ex-mayor of Bogota, historical militant of the Colombian left and leading all the polls with 41% of voting intention, followed with a big gap by Federico Gutierrez, right-wing candidate and ex-mayor of Medellin with 27%. A fact to highlight is the role of Francia Márquez, black woman, feminist, defender of human rights who could become the vice-president of Petro.

This climate of tension makes it possible to affirm that, far from winning the elections as the main goal, it is necessary that the candidate representing most of the population be alive at the time of the vote to ensure that for the first time the Colombian people can dream of peace and sovereignty in this continent.

Colombia, an important country in South America, with more than 50 million inhabitants, borders several countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Peru. It is at the centre of a geographically relevant space in the disputes for political, economic, and military power. It is a country historically ruled by far-right conservatives, defeatists and totally subservient to the interests of the US empire.

In recent decades, the Colombian people have lived through a process of constant aggression and violence by conservative groups with links to drug trafficking, paramilitary groups, and militias. For the population, one of the main goals in life is to survive in the midst of a state of violence implanted in all the territories of the country. Colombia is now the South American country with the largest number of US bases installed in its territories.

These bases, always justified with the argument of the fight against guerrillas and drug trafficking, have the real objective of controlling and confronting in an aggressive and ostensible way all of South America. The US dream is to conspire and create permanent conflicts mainly with Venezuela, but with an eye on the movements of the entire Amazon, which should and must be managed by the South American countries that make up the territory. This form of military control is a permanent threat against South American countries and the peoples of the region.

More than 50 years ago, Colombian leftists began to organize armed resistance groups. The guerrilla organizations that resisted for years, such as the FARC – Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the ELN – National Liberation Army, among others, organized as a political base the community of peasants, who both lived and still live under the violence promoted directly by paramilitary groups in the service of the Colombian extreme right and militia groups in the service of the companies controlling the Mafia and the distribution of cocaine throughout the world; governments subject people to extreme poverty, combined with terrible living conditions.

More than 1,300 leaders have been assassinated in the country since November 2016, and 43 massacres have already been committed so far in 2022, calls for an end to violence and assassinations. In relation to this concrete subject, Petro sent a direct message to the bourgeoisie and the drug traffickers who want “the country to bow before those who buy coal, oil, and cocaine”.

The possibility of a leftist government, ending total submission to the United States and its oligarchs, building with society a process based on democracy, peace, and the distribution of wealth, is at stake in these elections.

In the region, Colombia could adopt an important role in regional political articulation and relations, which would improve ties among South American countries. Therefore, the presidential elections in Colombia could create the conditions to change the scenario of the correlations of political forces in Latin America.

As a reminder of last year, the left won elections in Peru and Chile – where the process of building a new constitution is underway at the hand of a constituent assembly elected only for this function; progressive forces won the presidential elections in Honduras, power was regained in Bolivia after the coup against Evo Morales, and Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua resisted an aggressive attack with boycotts and conspiracies aimed at exhausting and defeating the popular governments of these countries.

The possibility of triumph in the Colombian presidential elections and Lula’s victory in Brazil in October would allow the reconstruction, step by step, of a more sovereign relationship among the different Latin nations of the continent. The region will have an opportunity to reinstate instruments of sovereign and autonomous coordination regarding US attacks and to become a region with pride and sovereignty in its relations, commercial, and political relations with other nations, even with the United Statesian.

If Petro wins the elections, the government and the people of Colombia will have decisive challenges in the future for the reconstruction of the nation, the first of which is to politically defeat the extreme right. It is not enough to beat them at the ballot box, they will also have to be defeated ideologically, among the populations and in the dispute over ideas. This will happen day by day in society. Defeating them ideologically is necessary to avoid more violence and so that the population can dream of a free and sovereign country.

The second challenge is the deactivation of the pillars of support to the bourgeoisie: the paramilitary groups and the militias responsible for most of the violence suffered by the population. Third, build with the guerrilla organizations a robust peace process, including the political and economic integration of the population in the liberated areas with a broader agrarian reform guaranteeing peasant families the conditions to be able to work the fields and live with dignity. Create a broader process with public policies to ensure assistance to rural communities with literacy, health, highways, transportation, electricity, and infrastructure for society to live in safety.

Finally, perhaps one of the greatest challenges of the new Colombian government is the integration of Colombia into the processes of political articulation in the region that can guarantee the construction of a sovereign and autonomous process among the regional nations. It is about deconstructing the historical process of submission to US interests. For us, the duty of this week is to monitor the process at the same time to establish a synergy so that the elections in Colombia are made transparent and legitimate and the people can finally celebrate a great historic achievement, to then rebuild the country for the Colombian people.

Photo: Colprensa