By Reinaldo Spitaletta, EL ESPECTADOR, January 3, 2022

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

This year, which has barely begun, embodies something joyous: the conclusion of the worst administration in the recent history of this country. That’s not an unlimited declaration, as for others the worst might be that of Santos, or that of Uribe, or of Pastrana, and in that way, even going back to the nineties, with the shock of the little President with the shrill voice who declared, without offering us anything: “Welcome to the Future!” And we are in that future, with economic liberalization, one-sided free trade agreements, plundering, privatization, the household budget a shambles, and an extensive list of misadventures of yesterday and right now.

Ours is quite a story, the story of a country up against it, pawned and plundered, with a long tradition of defeatism in the face of foreign interests, and with chilling violence. We are not only a “banana republic”, but rather a coke-cooking country. We’re the pastures of the imperial gringos and of the transnational companies. We’re more than pleased by our furtive love affair with Washington’s policies, that, since time immemorial, or to say the least, ever since the Respice Polum (Look to the North) doctrine of the Suarez grammar, we are a neo-colony. The term doesn’t sound very nice, it doesn’t rhyme, but it’s the truth.

We are expert puppets, marionettes, with pipsqueaks in power. It seems to me that the four years of this Presidency, which will pass away in a few months, have been among the most representative of an upside-down country, unstrung (Lleras Restrepo’s term) and prostituted. The present time could be, and there are social indications that it is, the most calamitous, I would say, in the contemporary history of Colombia. At least, and the contention is unquestionable, it has been the most unpopular.

A country of importations and assembly plants, of discouragement of agriculture, of brokers for international financial capital, keeping its people in poverty, and furnishing enormous earnings to the privileged few. A country that has auctioned off its sovereignty, given the day off to the public good, spread its legs like a prostitute to the highest bidder of the profiteers, has had its carnival prize doll in the current administration, manipulated not just by the puppet master of the big city, but also by the local tycoons of the capital.

Iván Duque’s has been another administration working against the nation’s interests, and just like the previous ones but in a greater proportion; he has engulfed the poor in their ruin, and in a multitude of deprivations, and with particularity. We are more and more miserable, more beaten up by the inequities. The year that just ended has been one of the ones that have most laid bare the anti-people appearance of the guy that was, as was Turbay Ayala, the butt of more punchlines inspired by the people’s ingenuity. Their only defense, sometimes, is to appeal to street humor and the jokes from the market square (and those are getting fewer and fewer in Colombia).

2021 was a year where the people continued their struggle, with a prolonged national strike, which, in the midst of the pandemic, showed their capacity for resistance to their encirclement by misery and bad government. There were, in spite of the government’s brutal repression, massive demonstrations of discontent with the administration’s demagogy, with its measures that hurt the empty pockets of the humiliated and forgotten. The overwhelming defeat of the tax reform bill (baptized by the administration with the euphemism “Sustainable Solidary Law”) and the spectacular fall of the Treasury Minister, the hotshot of neoliberal economic policies; both were fitting achievements of the outrage of students, housewives, workers, and vast strata of the population.

The Duque administration, stained with blood in police massacres such as the ones that occurred in 2020 in Bogotá and Soacha, showed its executioner face to those who rose up against their arbitrariness and lawlessness. The President of the Seven Dwarfs and his thirty-one dull people have been the target of hooting and booing, as a formidable protest against his hunger-making policies (There are people who eat twice a day, if they’re lucky.) and against his disdain for the dispossessed.

The pandemic exposed all of the miseries of the majorities, aggravated by the administration’s treatment, which widened social divides, augmented poverty, as well as the precariousness and the anxiety of the millions of displaced people. And at the same time, like fuel, it fanned the flames of social rebellion, which, in 2021, reached the height of popular discontent with the regime.

The killing of the demonstrators, fallen in heroic acts against injustice, are a historic mark of the growing rage of the people against the official outrages. The last year wrote in blood a tragic catalog of young men killed by police brutality. Their memory will spur the marches of the future.

The Duque administration, eaten away by the cancer of corruption, hollowed out by scandal, like the theft of 70,000 million pesos (roughly USD $17,500,000) by “abudineados”[1] in the MinTic contract with Centros Poblados, had increased in popular antipathy with a vengeance. Its essence is the despotic exercise of oligarchic power which, at the same time it awards privileges and perquisites to some few bankers and oligopolies, it mistreats millions and drowns them in suffering. That calamity won’t even expire in August of 2022.

[1] Karen Abudinen was the Colombian Minister of Information and Technology (MinTic) who was forced to resign because of the MinTic scandal. According to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Spain’s Royal Academy of the Spanish Language has documented the use of the term “abudinar” or “abudinear”, based on her name, as synonyms for theft or cheating.

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