National Strike in Colombia

September 23, 2002

On September 16, hundreds of thousands of people in Colombia organized a one-day National Strike. The people put forward economic demands in defense of their livelihoods as well as political demands against the government's war drive and fascism and against U.S. military intervention in the country.

The call for this political strike was initially issued by the Central Trade Union Federation. Workers in the state sector of the economy were particularly prominent in strike activities. Many other sectors of the people joined in, including major campesino organizations which held an agricultural strike, indigenous peoples' organizations, youth collectives, workers from other economic sectors, community organizations, the unemployed, and others.

In Bogota alone more than 150,000 people marched in a street demonstration. Largescale actions were also organized in other cities and regions, often in the face of severe governmental repression. In the departments of Sucre, Tolima and Cesar the government arrested representatives of various international NGOs who were acting as observers of the campesinos' strike. In Bogota at least 45 students were arrested and many beaten.

The National Strike was particularly aimed against the Uribe government's fascistization of Colombian society as well as against growing U.S. military intervention and war. On September 10, the government issued Decree 2002 which gives the security forces free reign to carry out raids and arrests without warrant and creates several "Rehabilitation Zones" under direct military rule and in which all democratic rights are suspended, including the free movement of the population.

This state of emergency is part of Uribe's escalating counter-insurgency war against the armed guerrilla movements and against the Colombian people. Behind Uribe stands U.S. imperialism which is training, financing, and commanding the Colombian army as part of the so-called "international war against terrorism."