From A World to Win News Service

Colombia: May Day 2004

Revolutionary Worker #1242, May 30, 2004, posted at

We received the following from A World to Win News Service:

17 May 2004. A World to Win News Service. This May 1st, more than 70,000 people marched through downtown Bogotá in one of the biggest demonstrations in more than a decade. A great many youth from various sections of society took part. Particularly unusual was the fact that more people marched under the flags of the political organizations than under those of the trade unions. Another important aspect was how the slogans expressed a higher political level than past May Days. They repudiated the pro-imperialist and fascist regime of Colombia's president Alvaro Uribe--currently the U.S.'s most open bootlicker in South America. They also expressed diverse positions in opposition to manifestations of imperialist domination in Colombia and the world, from direct military aggression such as in Iraq to unequal and oppressive trade agreements such as the U.S.-imposed Americas Free Trade Area (known by its Spanish acronym ALCA). The Maoists called for sweeping away imperialism, a position that has played an active role in radicalizing various other anti-imperialist sentiments and advancing towards a truly revolutionary process.

Contrary to most of the last 20 years when reformist and revisionist (phony communist) organizations predominated and opposed raising the anti-imperialist struggle, even censuring the use of the "outmoded" term imperialism, today organizations that do not call for struggle against imperialism are politically dead. The revolutionary, internationalist and anti-imperialist bloc was headed by a colorful and well-organized RIM contingent.

Its lead banner had the faces of Marx, Lenin and Mao and the text "Long Live Marxism-Leninism- Maoism!" hanging from two dozen balloons. Behind that were big banners with "Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the RIM!" and "Make MLM the Commander and Guide of the Colombian and World Revolution", "Build the genuine MLM party united in the RIM!", "Put RIM in the heart of the oppressed!", "Drown imperialism in a sea of people's wars!", "Support the PW in Peru and Nepal!", "Look to the Himalayas, a better world's in birth!", "Break the chains, unleash the fury of women as a mighty force for revolution". More than 12,000 leaflets from RIM and the Revolutionary Communist Group of Colombia (RCG ) were given out.

The Anti-Imperialist Brigades, along with some punk and anarchist organizations, and workers, students, and young people from the slums, joined with another internationalist and anti-imperialist bloc, which was led by two giant banners. One read, "North, South, East and West: Unite the People's Struggles!" The other, with an image of a kafiya (a symbol of the Palestinian struggle) said "Yankees out of Iraq, Palestine, Colombia & the world over!" Both were signed by the Anti-Imperialist Brigades. A four-meter tall cardboard "Statue of Liberty" carrying missiles in her hands and hanging a puppet with the face of the lackey Uribe accompanied the march. The burning of Yankee flags won the support of the thousands of people watching the event. The march took almost five hours to cover the four-kilometer route from the National Park to the Bolivar Square, home of the presidential palace, parliament and the law courts. Other slogans included "For a world without imperialism, build the World People's Resistance Movement!", "Yankee go home!", "Peoples of Latin America, unite and struggle against imperialism!" "Resist the fascist and pro-imperialist lackey Uribe!, "For a world without imperialism, develop a broader, deeper and more determined anti-imperialist struggle!", "People's liberation is not terrorism! Imperialist and reactionaries, hand off Nepal!" "Long live the heroic people of Fallujah, symbol of the anti-imperialist resistance!"

When the march ended at crowded Bolivar Square, the police attacked a group of anarchists at the tail of the march. In the confrontation some demonstrators were wounded by rubber bullets and tear gas canisters and some were arrested. The battle was hard fought; the masses replied with sticks and rocks. The demonstration was broken up by a half-dozen anti-riot trucks with water cannon and more than a hundred anti-riot cops. Many hundreds of demonstrators returned to the square and pressed until the arrested were freed. The people's mood was hot and you could feel the people's longing for the struggles ahead.


More than 4,000 workers and students, mainly young people, including children, marched to celebrate this May Day. The march was attended by diverse trade unions and other mass and political organizations. The Patriotic Front for the Defense of Ecopetrol (the state-run oil company) denounced the handing over of the country's energy resources to imperialist corporations like Chevron-Texaco, ExxonMobil, Oxy and Shell. Coca Cola workers called to continue the boycott campaign against Coca Cola products and denounced the alliance between the company and the fascist paramilitary organizations that have killed many political and trade union leaders. The slogans showed a generalized mood of opposition to the ALCA and imperialist domination, and against the re-election of Uribe and his fascist measures.

A contingent with more than 60 young people, mainly from the Anti-imperialist Brigades, and other revolutionary masses including workers and students from the main university in the region), carried banners against the imperialist occupation of Iraq and hailing the resistance there and in Palestine. Chanting anti-imperialist and revolutionary slogans, they constantly jumped, ran and then walked again. There was also a detachment of RCG supporters carrying a giant banner with RIM's symbol of the globe breaking free and masses from the world over with guns, and the text "Celebrate the 20th anniversary of RIM". They wore kafiyas covering their faces and red shirts with the image of Mao as they sang The Internationale . Workers approached the detachment and congratulated their boldness in a dangerous region in a dangerous country.


In this small city, the main oil enclave in the country and a bastion of the militant worker's movement for the past century, and now to a large degree under paramilitary control, May Day was celebrated by a sizable demo such as has not been seen for many years. More than 15,000 people attended a march. The background to this event was the resistance of the oil workers affiliated with the USO, the country's main trade union, now in the middle of a strike against Uribe's pro-imperialist privatisation policies. An RCG detachment clandestinely distributed a thousand copies of the RIM and RCG May Day statements.


Many preparations were made for May Day this year. Big and beautiful banners and graffiti with messages hailing the 20th anniversary of RIM appeared in the main universities of Colombia's second largest city. Anti-Imperialist Brigade supporters confronted security guards and burst many times into classrooms to invite students to join the May Day demo and celebrations. A slideshow on the history of May Day was shown in the universities and the state-run training center for workers. Dozens of activists handed out thousands of leaflets downtown and in factories, schools and the slums.

More than 15,000 people marched, most of them from trade unions, political organizations and NGOs. Reformist slogans predominated, but three sections of the march made a difference with anti-imperialist slogans. At the head of the march, young radicals accompanied the trade-union bloc. In the middle was the RIM contingent, and at the rear the anarchist groups. These three groups confronted the anti-riot cops constantly.

This year the RIM bloc was bigger, amounting to some 200 people, whose proletarian red banners contrasted with the black flags carried by the anarchists. The contingent was headed by big photos of Marx, Lenin and Mao and the same kinds of banners the Maoists carried in other cities. RCG supporters, including members of the RCG's youth branch, the Red Guards, were joined by supporters of the Committee for the Unification of the Marxist-Leninist- Maoists, the Anti-Imperialist Brigades, punks from the Committee against Police Brutality and members of the Anti- Imperialist Youth organization. Some 30 street vendors, workers, teachers and students carried flags with the names of the parties participating in RIM and red flags. This bloc confronted police provocations many times, and responded in a compact manner with sticks. In the sharpest moments, as activists rescued comrades from the cops' clutches, workers from other blocs helped them, swelling their ranks and making their bloc more compact. At the end, as the demo was dissolving, some activists were arrested but were freed a few hours later with the help of human rights organizations.


The ALCA, the high cost of public services, and the closing of the university hospital were the main targets of the slogans during the demonstration this May Day. The march was the most heavily attended in recent years, with more than 5,000 people, some from neighbor municipalities, and from trade union, student, women's and political organizations, along with a Maoist and an anti-imperialist bloc.

The Colombian government is taking measures against any kind of dissent by enacting fascistic laws, but this May 1st showed once again that oppression brings resistance. In all corners of the country, the situation is like dry prairie ready to burn. What is required is more revolutionary politics, more MLM that allows uniting all those who can be united in a revolutionary (anti-imperialist and anti-feudal) front led by a genuine communist party that unites the true communists and initiates and leads a people's war. This is the process the Revolutionary Communist Group is engaged in.