News Release

Colombia: La Resistencia

FORREST HYLTON, [currently in Brazil] forresthylton@gmail.com
Hylton teaches history and politics at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia-Medellín. He just wrote the piece “La Resistencia” for the London Review of Books.

He writes: “Long one of Latin America’s most conservative countries, Colombia is undergoing a sea change. The second general strike in as many years evolved rapidly into a nationwide urban insurrection. ‘La Resistencia’ has endured for a month in the teeth of ferocious repression. …

“Soon after the protests started on 28 April, the proposed tax reform package that had triggered the strike was withdrawn, proposed healthcare reforms died in committee, and the finance minister and the foreign minister were forced to step down. There were (toothless) calls for dialogue and de-escalation from the international community. Yet the overwhelmingly non-violent protests have continued, as has the government’s response using deadly force.

Ninis (young people without education or job prospects) from urban peripheries have been the leading force on the barricades and they have faced the brunt of police terror — some of it captured on cell phone videos, including sexual assault, torture and murder — in Bogotá, Medellín, Pereira, Cartago, Buga, Tuluá, Cali, Popayán, Pasto, Bucaramanga and Barranquilla. They and their families account for perhaps half the population, and on the rare occasions they are interviewed, they say things like: ‘We have no future because they have taken everything from us, even fear. We have nothing left to lose.’ This was already true before Covid-19 hit, but lack of basic income support during the pandemic has made daily life impossible.”