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Three news items: cause of sadness and joy

Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

29 October 2020

In a short lapse of time three news items came out, which are apparently unrelated.  The first one was the news of the victory in the Chilean referendum to change the Pinochet constitution and the other two were the massacre of at least five people in the department of Sucre and the fall of Commander Uriel of the ELN. Although it seems not to be the case, the three news items are inter-related.

In Chile following on from the mobilisations of last year, the right wing government and the ideological and political heir of the dictatorship had to cede to the pressures of the mobilisations and call a referendum to decide on the future of the constitution.  It was a clear victory for the popular movement at a time sectors of the Communist Party wanted to reach an agreement with Piñera rather than overthrow him.  The Covid-19 virus saved as much one as the other from greater embarrassment.  The popular victory back then, got its validation on Sunday with the overwhelming victory to change the constitution.  A clear lesson is not to leave the mobilisation nor the demands in the hands of supposed left politicians and trade union bureaucrats that want to reach agreements or change things without changing them.

In Colombia the news was not as joyous, in the department of Sucre at least five land claimants were murdered, amongst them the lawyer who represented them.  There is no doubt, it is another state crime, another massacre carried out by cattle ranchers.

Adil Meléndez, a human rights lawyer and member of the Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE) in Sucre explained to this newspaper [El Espectador] that "days before the massacre there was a meeting in which the Mayor of San Marcos took part.  The chair of the Council and the Home Secretary, the Commander of the Police Station and the ranchers of the region also took part.  At that meeting the cattle ranchers apparently stated they had the means to evict the peasants who are now being murdered".(1)
The news of the fall of Commander Uriel of the ELN at the hands of an army sniper also reached our ears.  There are those who will be pleased by the news of his death, there are those in the Polo and Colombia Humana(2) who will remain silent regarding his death, but who are also happy, they will raise a toast in secret just like they hypocritically toast the takeover of the Santo Domingo Embassy by themselves or their former comrades,(3) or those who continue to secretly toast one or other of the FARC storming of military bases.  They will say that they no longer agree with those methods, the armed struggle, but in reality what they no longer agree with is the proposal for a different country.

The three events are related.  In Chile the people struggled and conquered.  In Sucre they struggled for land and the state massacred them.  In Chocó, that same state killed a man who did not trust them nor the institutions that some sectors of the left promote.

Regardless of whether one agrees with the armed struggle of the ELN or whether one believes in the just demands and methods of those who reclaim their land, Chile shows that we have to struggle and the people can beat their class enemy.  There is a long road to go for the Chilean people, but there is also a long road to go for the Colombian people whose opposition leadership believes the solution is to win the 2022 elections when the Chileans didn't wait for the 2021 elections in that country in order to insist upon a change.


(1) El Espectador (25/10/2020) Masacre en Sucre: cinco personas fueron asesinadas

(2) The Polo Democrático and Colombia Humana are two reformist alliances which could best be described as Social Democratic, though neither come from such traditions in any historical or ideological sense of the term.
(3)The Embassy was taken over by the then M-19 guerrillas who later demobilised and whose members are now leading members of Colombia Humana and also the Polo.

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