More than a month ago, approximately ten thousand peasants from North Eastern Colombia began a huge mobilization, defending the constitution of a Peasant Reserve Zone in the region of Catatumbo, based on the Law 160 of 1994.
The Catatumbo movement is growing day after day. The conditions of misery and State negligence in the region motivate the peasants to incorporate to a belligerent social movement, and confront the official repression. The communities of municipios like El Tarra, Tibú, San Calixto, Teorama, Hacará, obstruct the main highways of the Norte de Santander department, unleashing an enormous solidarity in several cities of Colombia and the whole world.
The official position of the Colombian government? "We don't negotiate with the peasants, they're all infiltrated by the guerrilla". A new chapter of the particular Colombian variant of McCarthyism: the complete universe of heterogeneous social movements is just a collection of umbrella organizations of the "narco-terrorist" guerrilla.
The "editorial position" of the State wants to give media treatment to a social problem. This strategy reaches the top of absurdity when the mainstream opinion magazine of the country, Semana, shows the definitive proof of the peasant-FARC connection: César Jerez, geologist and social activist of the Peasant Association of Catatumbo, was a teenage scholarship holder - in a Soviet Union university!
But the strategy of the Colombian State doesn't only consist in media farce and perfidy. Enormous contingents of soldiers and policemen were mobilized to Catatumbo, with the mission of violently restraining the people's expression. On June 22nd , two peasants, Leonel Jécome and Edison Franco, were killed by State bullets during a confrontation where the State units used firearms against the civil population. June 25, the dramatic facts were repeated: Diomel Angarita and Hermidez Palacio, Catatumbo peasants, died in similar conditions. July 17, a new attack of the Police units left considerable damages in civil population properties, and a long list of seriously wounded peasants.
The outlook of the social fight in Colombia goes rough. In eighty municipios of the country began a strike of the traditional mining workers who are opposed to the transnational mining industry. In Irra, a traditional town of gold operators in the Western Colombia, the State repression of the miners' strike left dozens of wounded people on July 17th . Even though, Bogotá government insists on its soap opera script: don't negotiate with the social movements.
In the short term, more and more mobilization is on the way. Peasants, native people and coffee producers announced a National Agrarian Strike for the middle of August. Will there be any change in the government's position?