Given the massive student demonstrations of last December in the UK, it is perhaps surprising that more coverage has not gone to the recent events in Colombia. In early October the Santos government sought to introduce a law (Ley 30) that would, among other thing, privatise the remaining public universities. In an immediate and powerful response, the students began to organise acts of public protest, culminating with a nationwide protest on 10 November. They combined with labour unions, their lecturers and secondary school children. They used a variety of tactics, from the traditional political expressions like marches and traffic interruptions to the more novel, like hug-a-thons with the police. They looked to the Chilean and UK student protests, the Spanish Indignados and their own traditions and histories of resistance. In the face of such massive protest from across Colombian society, the government first – as in Chile and the UK – threatened and then used ‘forcefully… the legal arm of state repression.’ However, on 16 November, in what should be seen as a victory for the global student movement, the government withdrew Ley 30. In this open letter to the Student movement, Professor Ricardo Sanin pleads that they should not to stop but rather covert their struggle against Ley 30 into a ruptural counterpoint.
Author: Ricardo Sanín Restrepo (in Spanish)
You have shaken the structures of power of this country with what you have achieved until now. You have attained an everlasting victory over an ideological machine that is used to suffocate any dissident discourse that aspires to social justice with the violence of weapons, media or law. You have shown us all that we are not the country drawn by media fantasies, that we are not puppets on the string of a macabre ‘reality show’ and that we are not willing to sell ourselves to the highest bidders. You have also shown us that this cannot be the country dominated by a meticulous elite depredatory of democracy, shielded in a fortress of words and statistics without meaning. You have brought down to its knees an enormous power device, demonstrating that you are not phantoms dragging out of nothing, but that you are a dense reality that appears from your own history and time, that emerges from your own discourse and your own capacity to imagine and create a better world. Thus you have given a new meaning and orientation to the deepest sense of democracy: to live in conflict and to take it to its limit. In other words you have recovered the true meaning of politics, that which is anonymous, whose most intimate and sacred architecture are the streets, the squares and the walls and you have rewritten over a petrified history of the few. You have achieved this with tenacity, discipline, but above all love.Add a comment