Medellin's diary of tear gas hermeneutics at CounterPunch.org

Medellin's diary of tear gas hermeneutics at CounterPunch.org

I often tell people that Medellín, where Blade Runner meets Mad Max, is a middle-class bubble where I live, despite the spread of the poor and the poor, the proximity of war zones and the instigation of organized crime. rarely stabbed. Currently, the ominous throwing of helicopter rotors disturbs my focus, but for the most part, the recovery of Medellín's long-awaited city name into 21st-century dystopia is something I look at from the distance offered by a professional routine. Although this routine included nine protest marches in the second half of 2018, I was left with no clashes between the virtually mentioned insurgency police (who are causing the unrest) and the radical circle of masked street fighters. These confrontations were marginal in our movement and came after most of us, students and faculty, had already dispersed after the extensive marches that closed downtown. And they generally took place by the river in a well-heeled, getelic Universidad Nacional, where I work, in a more radically democratic Universidad de Antioquia, where unmasked street fighting traditions have remained better or worse and set off. nationwide strike in 2018. However, this was before the border crisis in Venezuela became a geopolitical flash point last year, and Colombia's and the hemisphere's policies shifted even more sharply to the right, as the OEA General Assembly in Medellin now showed. , which, of course, focuses on Venezuela.

Maybe it's no coincidence that I've been teared twice this week: the first time was on June 25 behind my new bunker-like university gate (cost: $ 627,000) as students tried to block a large artery in Carrera 65. Running north - in a southerly direction near the river Medellin. They had previously tried to block a key junction outside the university near another entrance near the Coca Cola bottling plant, which resulted in dozens of riot police students returning to the university and then entering university territory, which is technically illegal by firing tears of gas from football pitches into classrooms. This led to the students escaping through and around the entrance to Carrera 65. Fifteen minutes later, a riot-like police vehicle came around the corner of a narrow street separating the university and a neighboring ghetto, bringing it almost to the student. The rebel police then accidentally started shooting tear gas at the university, although the students did not object. Needless to say, the plans for the marching and vigilance of the leaders of the social movement with the martyrs fell apart and were replaced by rage, shock, and despair. Since the Colombian government signed a peace agreement with the FARC (Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces) in Havana in November 2016, more than 130 former FARC fighters and 700 leaders of the social movement have been murdered, with almost complete impunity. However, there are no conditions for keeping a vigil.

On the afternoon of June 27, several blocks from the university, I noticed a flood of students above Carrera 65 and rightly thought that the university had been evacuated again, but that time seems even uglier than June 25, as far as it was proactive. The presence of masked protesters on the main north-south highway, just behind the university's second entrance, prompted riot police to block both entrances to the university and then flee the fugitives. The tear gas was so voluminous that it drifted into the adjoining residential area of ​​Carlos E Restrepo, burning the eyes and noses of children and the elderly, as well as students seeking shelter from the storm. Despite the absence of a real adversary, riot police blocked both entrances and duplicated the campus several hours after the tear gas evacuation. Probably helicopters helped them.

So far, the vice-rector has been silent on repression, and since 27 June, negotiations between the rector of the Universidad Nacional and the professions of professors and university staff have been suspended. The Ministry of Education is still negotiating with the student mobility organizations on the implementation of the agreement reached in December 2018, although the momentum has been minimal. Another strike may begin if the government continues to drag its feet and suppress student protests.

None of the above covers the sufficiently threatening and tense climate that prevails in the run-up to the legislative elections in the city and the country in general in the autumn. According to a daily newspaper run by the city, there are currently 13 different flash points where gangs fight drug sales and blackmail by blocking them between security wars. In December 2017, the capture of Juan Carlos Mesa Vallejo, aka Carlos Chata, disturbed the precarious balance among the five main organized crime factions in the city's mafia center Oficina de Envigado. Fifteen minutes from Comuna University in 13 countries, the flow of euros and US dollars has dried up as firefighters broke out near the escalators during the day, where foreigners came to witness Medellín's alleged transformation from a gangster paradise to a tourist refuge. A Comuna 13 resident in his sixties whose sister lives in a bloc disputed by several gangs, some of which are linked to Mexican criminal networks, with his high-tech weapons tells me it's like Vietnam, except futuristic thanks to new lasers, weapons and ammunition, unlike Comuna 13's recent history seen or heard of hair-raising violence as the war escalates and spreads to neighboring areas, such as América, where almost 30 murders have taken place this year. The murders and chaos are likely to have returned dramatically since the fall of Carlos Chata.

In a situation where gangsterism has become society itself, students 'demands for implementing the agreements take on real importance: along with the demands of victims' rights movements to save special jurisdiction for peace (JEP), student demands stand unresolved among the Uribismo. Colombia. As usual, the stakes can hardly be higher, and when another nervous war, also called a strike, breaks out in public universities, it should come as no surprise.

Forrest Hylton teaches history and politics at Colombia's Universidad Nacional and is the author of Evil Hour (Verso 2006) in Colombia, which has won him many friends and influenced even more people. He is a member of the Colombia Asociación Sindical de Profesores Universitarios (ASPU).

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