This despite of the fact that many sectors of the peasantry - while not hesitating to express their open and determined support for the national Agrarian, peasant, ethnic and popular Minga (strike) - expressed in advance that they could not join the activity, because of the economic losses caused by the phenomenon of El Niño, or because they were preparing other mobilisations in favour of peace talks with the FARC and ELN.
The convenors claim, as the main reason of their protest, the failure of the Colombian government to implement the agreements signed with them following the strike of 2103, which adds a more dramatic tone to their sacrificed mobilisation. So true is what they say, that President Santos himself publicly apologise to them.
I know that there are people right now protesting because they haven't received some of the resources for projects and they have every right to protest, said the President before thousands of peasants convened to celebrate their day in Quimbaya, in Quindio. Very kind and gentle, the Minister of Agriculture, Aurelio Iragorri, invited peasants and indigenous to sit down and talk to overcome difficulties.
Contrary to both gestures of chivalry, the Minister of Defense, Luis Carlos Villegas, reported on June 1 to the press that since the day before, there had been a total of 15 injured people, including eight civilians and 7 uniformed, as a result of the agrarian strike protests. He added that he had charged 7 people (5 adults and two minors) with violent acts and assaults against policemen.
Such a statement confirms the total credibility of the allegations made by peasants and indigenous on strike, since it is well known that the official vice manipulates figures and reduces them to make them look acceptable. According to the third Bulletin of the Coalition of Social Movements and Organisations of Colombia (Comosoc), the list of aggressions during the first three days of strike amounts to 74 wounded, 1 indigenous dead and 2 arbitrary detentions.
After listening to Luis Fernando Arias, mayor councillor of the National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia (ONIC), specifying that there are 65 injured as a result of the repression, justified by the government with the argument that the guerrilla infiltrated the strike and therefore the demands of the strike will not be listened to, it’s outrageous to listen to the defense minister saying that various departments are being infiltrated by the ELN and that is the cause of the violence produced.
While the agrarian leader of Boyacá, Cesar Pachon, calls Minister Iragorri a snake charmer and asks to President Santos to be serious to ensure the implementation of what had been agreed in the previous strike, news is made public of the open letter sent to President Santos by the municipal representative of the municipality of El Tarra, located in the Catatumbo in Norte de Santander, in which he makes a frank criticism to the President for having compared the area to what happened in the Bronx.
"The situation in El Tarra and Catatumbo is not to be solved with more violence. I think there is no need to sacrifice more Colombians, whatever the side they are on. We need institutional presence in the area to make an analysis along with the Municipal Administration, the Community Action Boards and social organisations. This way we can make real programs and projects. I don’t know why I get the impression that many of the public policies are very distant to social realities."
The true source of all the problems of public order in the country is defined here in an emblematic way. Public policies are not based on social realities, but on the economic aspirations of powerful sectors represented in power. Such is the situation of the Colombian countryside; the mining and agricultural sectors are completely unaware of realities and interests of ordinary people. And the people can no longer remain passive when ignored in such a way.
And if the answer is State violence, well, there we can clearly see the most valid explanation for the long military confrontation experienced by the country in the last 52 years. A government expressing its will to sign peace with the insurgency, and that takes the task to achieve this, getting above the unconformity of great land and wealth grabbers in rural areas, cannot continue reneging on their word and continue using repression agains a just protest.
It’s necessary to talk, Mr. President, to listen to the opinion of those from below, to answer to their demands and reasons, promote public policies that will benefit them. The grotesque spectacle of the Mobile Riot Squad of the National Police must be abolished forever in Colombia. No more brutal beatings, no more fire against the people claiming their rights. This is what the FARC-EP has been saying for 5 years at the peace talks.
We express our solidarity with the just demands of the National Agrarian, Ethnic, Peasant and Popular Minga, that are not so different from those we have been making at the Table in Havana during the discussion of the First Point of the agreed Agenda. It is true that we reached a Partial Agreement on Comprehensive Rural Reform, and soon we will have to settle the outstanding points. Our concerns were and remain the same.
The obstinacy of the National Government in defending an economic and political model that does not serve national and popular interests - a model in crisis because of the falling prices in the international field - has to be defeated by the ordinary people of Colombia . That's the reason of the long armed struggle we aspire to end very soon, the reason of the strikes and demonstrations. People cannot continue to be ignored; they need answers, no more deceit.
Comandante of the Central High Command of the FARC-EP
Havana, June 2, 2016.