The Guardian August 28, 2002


Government violence aggravates Colombian impasse

The declaration of a State of Internal Commotion in Colombia by the 
Government of President Alvaro Uribe, who recently took office, is a fact 
of extreme gravity that reveals the possibility of the Colombian conflict 
developing into an irreversible spiral of violence.

The arbitrary measures grant vast powers to the President of the Republic, 
who will rule by decree for a period of 90 days, suspending constitutional 
rights, limiting the right of gathering and mobilisation, restricting 
union, student and farm workers' demonstrations and even demonstrations 
related to the struggle for peace, sovereignty and human rights that the 
Government, in an extreme act of hypocrisy, claims to stand for.

The emergency measures were accompanied by the creation of a special tax 
designed to finance the fight against guerilla forces. From now on the 
State will impose a 1.2 percent tax on people and companies with assets 
over US$60,000, representing an increase of US$780 million in the defence 
budget that will be used to create two new elite brigades of fast mobility.

At the same time Uribe has championed the creation of an army of informers 
with more than one million people.

The new Colombian Government tries to legitimate those authoritarian and 
repressive measures under the pretext of providing a response to guerilla 
groups, especially after their recent actions that have shocked both 
national and international public opinion.

This is a false judgement, since restricting liberties obviously is 
innocuous as far as impeding violent action is concerned. In fact, the 
Colombian people face now a new anti-democratic threat.

The State of Internal Commotion follows decades of restrictions regarding 
political liberties and civil rights. It is another turn to the right taken 
by the reactionary oligarchies of a State that makes violence against the 
people its main governing method.

In the meantime Uribe has started full-scale military actions with massive 
bombings undertaken by the Air force against guerilla camps. Therefore he 
makes clear his option for raw power which can only result in total war.

The Colombian Government  as well as its US allies and financiers  
knows that there is no military solution to the Colombian conflict. 
Restrictions of democratic liberties and militarisation will only aggravate 
the Colombian impasse.

Either dialogue is restarted  for it was ended in the last days of the 
previous government due to US pressure  or Colombia will be plunged into 
widening conflict.

The Colombian people have the right to peace and want to live in peace. 
Peace with national sovereignty, social rights and full democracy. The 
evolution of events has shown that this peace will not come as a result of 
making the revolutionary movement surrender nor from crushing the guerilla 
in the battlefield.

It can only be the result of understanding, of serious negotiations and 
viable agreements that establish conditions necessary to allow the country 
to overcome social inequalities and develop a political regime that grants 
authentic democracy to the people and true national independence to the 
country.

The country's oligarchies are deaf to these calls. They are not willing to 
waive privileges. And US imperialism pursues another strategy  the full 
domination of the Latin American continent. That is what the Colombia Plan 
and the so-called Andean Regional Initiative are for.

Due to the gravity of the situation in Colombia the solidarity of the 
Latin-American peoples with the democratic and popular movement in this 
country is indispensable, as well as an intense participation in favour of 
dialogue and peace.

* * *
Jose Reinaldo Carvalho, Vice-President of the Communist Party of Brazil, responsible for international relations.

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