Progressives and the Colombian groups in Spain protested the participation of Colombian president Ivan Duque at the Madrid Book Fair. On September 12, Sunday, various organizations, including Resistance Madrid-Colombia collectives and For Life, Peace and Justice, marched in the city protesting the invitation to Ivan Duque.
They allege that under his rule, there has been an increase in killings of Colombia’s trade unionists, peasants, and indigenous people. Left parties including the Communist Party of Peoples of Spain (PCPE), Spanish Communist Workers Party (PCOE), Communist Initiative, Proletarian Union, Red Network, etc. also took part in the march, denounced the participation of Ivan Duque in the book fair, and expressed solidarity with the people of Colombia. Ivan Duque will be visiting Madrid on September 16 and 17, as Colombia is the guest of honor at the Madrid Book Fair, which had been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Duque faced widespread international condemnation over his government’s response to the more than two-month-long general strike in Colombia which began on April 28. According to human rights organizations, more than 84 protesters were killed by government security forces.
The national strike, which started to oppose a neoliberal tax reform bill, transformed into a national struggle against the far-right government of President Ivan Duque and his austerity-driven policies and repression.
According to reports, in 2021 alone, 104 social leaders have been murdered in Colombia by security forces and the pro-government far-right militias in Colombia. Paramilitary violence and the humanitarian crisis escalated in Colombia in recent years, marked with the recurring murders of environmentalists, land defenders, human rights activists and leaders of Afro-descendent and indigenous communities, the selective killings of former combatants of the former FARC guerilla group, etc.
In the lead-up to the protest in Madrid against Ivan Duque’s visit, groups including the Communist Party of Peoples of Spain (PCPE), Spanish Communist Workers Party (PCOE), Communist Initiative, Proletarian Union, Red Network, etc. issued a joint statement demanding the Spanish government end military and police collaboration with Colombia and apply the Human Rights clause of the EU-Colombia Free Trade Agreement to hold the Colombian government accountable for its deeds.
In the statement, the communist groups have accused that Colombia is a narco-paramilitary state and President Iván Duque himself financed his political campaign with money from narcotraffickers. The statement has also criticized the Spanish government for inviting human rights violators like Ivan Duque to Spain and also for its complicity in the imperialist attacks against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.