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Photo: Luis Carlos Ayala

Photo: Luis Carlos Ayala

The Strike and Crisis of the Colombian State: Management and Reconciliation of Antagonism

Theory & ResearchA direct link between the 2021 national strike in Colombia and Gustavo Petro’s 2022 presidential election victory are often alluded to by academics, politicians, and the media. Although this premise is not false, it is a superficial explanation that fits well with the progressive discourses of the region. The purpose of this text is to question the linear thinking behind these processes, as well as present the Petro government’s slogan of política de amor (politics of love) as a link to the fashionable policies of reconciliation and forgiveness. Finally, questions are raised regarding who benefits from the administration.

I will begin with some brief context in which the two phenomena are presented, followed by a discussion of how the state is personified, and finally will propose development and productivity as a roadmap for the política de amor proposed by the Pacto Histórico (as the current coalition government of Colombia is known) as a form of reconciliation for the management of antagonism.


It is difficult to talk about Colombia without mentioning the history of the armed conflict and the violence that has lasted for over 60 years[1]. Violence has been catalogued as one of the great problems for Colombia, to the point that continued conflict can be considered part of its culture. This has led to an ongoing debate in the social sciences, known as violentología (Bautista 2018; Blair Trujillo 2009; Rojas and Maldonado 2023; Mora Cortés 2013).

Explanations for the violence include the absence of the state and the emergence of Colombia Profunda (Arturo Escobar), which refers to the regions that are disputed by different illegal, militant, and state armed groups due to this absence (Serje 2012). The explanation is aligned with the persistent social conflict over land disputes and the lack of agrarian reform.

This premise of abandonment is strongly reproduced in the report entitled No matarás. Hay futuro si hay verdad: Informe Final de la Comisión para el Esclarecimiento de la Verdad, la Convivencia y la No Repetición (2022) which, in its nine volumes plus its sections by region, develops the argument historically and ethnographically. The document is relevant because of the extensive retrieval, review, and research that was carried out throughout the country. The work was led by 12 commissioners, with research and citizen activist groups working together after the signing of the 2016 peace accords. 

Absence and abandonment is also the main explanation given by the Center for Research and Popular Education (CINEP), which has been doing rigorous field research since the 1970s. In line with the final report, it emphasizes that the presence of the state has been marked either by a military presence with limited institutionalism or by being absent except in case of extreme public order issues, a situation which favours the proliferation of other armed groups (Archila Neira et al. 2022). The CINEP publication Cuando la copa se rebosa: Luchas sociales en Colombia, 1975–2015 (ibid.) classifies the struggles under three types: strikes, civil disobedience, and conflicts over landholding. All three cases respond to a failure to comply with state promises or demands. The situations establish a cycle in which the solution to violence is to compensate, institute, or increase the size of the state. 

Within the explanation of social struggles demanding the state’s presence and the narrative of a military state, the implication is that civil society and state violence are an axis, reproducing themselves through it. However, the latent and explicit violence seems to be well framed throughout the country within the constitution of democracy, as David Jáuregui Sarmiento (2002) suggests. This factor also speaks to the institutional stability of the country, where it seems that civil institutions have maintained democratic order despite their weaknesses, and despite the constant questioning of their operability in the face of the extensive tradition of Colombian political violence. 

Although the history of armed conflict has affected all areas of discussion and political life in Colombia since the 1960s and the Cold War, it was not until 2011, during the government of Juan Manuel Santos, and with the Ley de Víctimas y de Restitución de Tierra (Victims and Land Restitution Law, or law 1448) of 2011, that Colombia would officially recognize the existence of an internal armed conflict. The first consequence of this was to dismantle the discourse around the “terrorist threat” that had justified more than 50 years of aggressive, military, and counterinsurgency policy, and that had been strengthened in the 2000s with the implementation of the anti-drug policy (Rivera 2007). 

The direct intervention of the United States with the anti-drug policy, in the extended doctrine of the internal enemy (Vega 2015) constitutes counterinsurgency: “under this argument, propaganda systems were established, psychological warfare, restructuring of armed forces and the riskiest of all: the training of civilians to support the military in the war” (Comisión de la Verdad 2022, 56) in which the systematic, individual, and collective persecution of community leaders, social organizations, and peoples is evidenced, which were broken up not only through violent means, but also through the infiltration of non-governmental organizations that under the banner of development were inserted into the areas of interest for these policies, such as with the Plan Colombia or the free trade agreements. 

The anti-drug policy was embodied in 1999 in the Plan Colombia, or the “Plan para la Paz y el Fortalecimiento del Estado” (plan for peace and for strengthening the state). Its purpose was not only to fight against drugs and drug trafficking, but also to prepare, secure, and create discipline in the territory where the free trade agreements were in place, with the hope of Colombia being economically revitalized as a strategic partner in oil, coal, and natural gas (Vega 2015). This policy was reinforced with the entry of the Política de Seguridad Democrática (Democratic Security Policy) of President Álvaro Uribe Vélez (2002–10). 

The package of measures and militarization resulting from Plan Colombia in its different phases exacerbated the problem of land tenure (Vega 2015). Between 2000 and 2015, landowners, companies, and politicians acquired huge swathes of land for palm oil crops, as well as for mining and energy projects (Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica 2015a), which made Colombia the second-worst country in the world for displacement, after Syria, with more than six million people forced to leave their lives behind (Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica 2015b). 

Of course, the problem of land itself influenced community relations and life. The military aggression of these policies not only threatened land tenure, but the general culture of entire communities. These communities strongly resisted a project that established a lifestyle aligned with the principles of exploitation and accumulation on a global scale.

The recognition of the internal armed conflict and the passage of the victims’ laws established the geographical and temporal relationship between the areas of dispossessed land or territorial dispute with the areas of greatest displacement or confinement following the arrival of extractivist and industrial companies. It also demonstrated the continuity of paramilitarism that has accompanied the state since the period known as La Violencia (1920–60), up to the present day, and despite the demobilization of the far-right Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (“United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia”, AUC) in 2005, which took place simultaneously with the extractivism and dispossession. 

The two guerrilla or armed militant groups with the greatest presence have been the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People's Army (FARC–EP) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). The possibility of an agreement to end the conflict began with the recognition of the Armed Conflict, as opposed to previous attempts at denial. In 2016, peace agreements were signed between the Colombian state and the FARC–EP, one of the longest-lasting guerrilla groups in Latin America. The signing of these agreements entailed the abandonment of weapons in exchange for democratic political participation. However, most importantly it included an agrarian reform to counteract the monopoly and occupation of land by a small number of landowners, which arguably had been the main cause of all the displacement, poverty, and murder. There is a long list of political consequences from the reading of the land/agro problem as the central axis of historical violence in Colombia.

This explanation shows a process of violence, a constant aggression with the state as its central agent, understood as an outpost of policies, neglect, and militarization. It also responds to a long trajectory of protests, activist processes, and organizations that continuously resist not only market pressures but also military force and interventionist policies. This a trajectory of a campesino struggle that found its place and dialogue with the international communist left, that has presented itself as an indigenous and student movement under the banners of autonomy and democracy. It is a trajectory that constantly moves beyond the identities or categories that seek to disarticulate it. It is a trajectory of grassroots force that, when it overflows, is capable of putting the reproduction of capitalist economic development at risk.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding military quarantine, all over the country there were red flags hung on the doors of houses as a sign of hunger. The public hospital infrastructure, which was collapsing due to periods of privatization, added to the previous labour precarity and high unemployment rates. While the state ignored the flags, it rescued the financial holding company Grupo Aval, as well as companies such as Tecnoquímicas S.A. and Avianca (Vélez 2020), and increased investment in military security (El Espectador 2021). 

In that context, when masks and hunger were the governmental solution, the grassroots struggle over the last 20 years and the influence of the peace agreements made possible the 2021 National Strike (Cruz, Doulos, and Rodríguez Aza, M. 2022); voices and bodies leaving the sectoral limits, challenging the limiting frameworks of the government, as well as the organizations and thought leaders from both the left and the right. In the words of Arturo Escobar (2021), we do not have the words to describe everything that happened; the experience of the strike separated us from known notions. What began as a protest against the tax reform that proposed higher taxes for the working class, overflowed into a strike that viscerally challenged all the foundations of governance, questioned institutions, and had no representatives or vanguards.

The fear of contagion and the sectoral strategy used by the government of President Duque (2018–22) failed to contain the anger in the streets. From the early hours of 28 April 2021 there were already people in the streets, and what started as a march turned into overflowing rivers of people throughout the country. Soon the frontlines of mothers, paramedics, and students were established, and with forcefulness they became the “Puerto de Resistencia” (Port of Resistance) with collective occupation of the streets. Beyond resistance to a tax reform, this created the challenge and the realization of other ways of occupying space, of relating, of asking questions and believing in the future. Fear was quarantined, and the force of the overflow defied all forecasts and measures; the overflow of the excluded, of lxs nadies [2] (the “nobodies”; see Rodríguez Aza, n.d.), and those who are never counted: the homeless, the unemployed, women, young people, and men — there was no distinction, the frustration boiled over into the streets. 

The controversial reform failed. But that was not the reason for the streets returning to their pandemic normality. The streets were the epicentre that revealed years of ferocious “internal enemy”[4] policy; authoritarian repression attacked and tried to dismember the body of the protests, including the eyes, the skin, and the lives that were challenging the existing order. Between 28 April and 26 June 2021, at least 4,687 cases of violence by the security forces were documented, without including cases of disappearances (Temblores ONG and Indepaz 2021). The accusations against the state intensified, the denunciations in social networks about police terror became the hashtag #SOSNosEstánMatando (#SOSTheyAreKillingUs)[3]. In the street, the previously-alleged state crimes were presented as a continuity of what had been happening during those months of the strike, which allowed the unveiling of the false mystification of the “neutrality” of the state (Cruz, Doulos, and Rodríguez Aza, 2022), which is “transformed into an overt use of force, both internally and externally, if at any time the foundations of the reproduction and self-expansion of capital and of exploitation are threatened” (Hirsch 1978, 65).

But repression is not only sustained from above; it also requires non-governmental support, as evidenced by the historical construction of subjectivities that were formed in the midst of the counterinsurgent discourse and the “internal enemy” (Comisión de la Verdad, 2022), racist, and authoritarian expressions that reclaimed the streets when the country returned to the normality of work and production. Using WhatsApp, armed individuals organized attacks in vans on the Indigenous Minga people, who were mobilizing to support the protests in Cali. Of course, the strike brought back memories of previous subjective displacements, reinforced vindictive practices, and led to questioning the status quo, but also made evident the widespread presence of “defenders of order”, reactionary citizens, and discourses of hatred, racism, and xenophobia. A whole repertoire of contradictions and possibilities in which the state was unable to contain the overflow, but which counted on the so-called “good citizens” willing to defend and establish order against the insolent nadies or nobodies (Rodríguez Aza, n.d.) who had taken over the streets. 

The crisis of legitimacy exposed by the strike called into question the role of the state. However, it also hindered the reproduction of a political imaginary of natural capitalism, widening the margin of what can be done from the streets, beyond traditional institutions (Cruz, Doulos, and Rodríguez Aza, 2022). Thus, the price of the depletion of the street protests was paid in blood, while also institutionalizing rituals of forgiveness. It also exhibited the government’s limits when it came to managing conflict from a purportedly neutral position (ibid.).


The crisis of state legitimacy is not solely a Colombian issue. On the contrary, it can be understood as a particularization of the capitalist state. According to John Holloway (1995) this allows us to understand capitalism in its totality; in this way, if we think of the protests in Chile in 2019, in France with the yellow vests movement, Hong Kong in 2020, or London in 2023 against the pension reform and the high cost of living, it not only speaks of how the state is limited to exerting discipline, but of how the separation between politics and economy is blurred through the challenges to the banners of progress and productivity as a guarantee of social welfare. 

At the same time, we can see that the intensification of violence is not unique to Colombia, having been on the rise globally since 2008. Revolts are increasingly confrontational and the strategies to appease tensions range from national protectionist policies to the persecution of migrants, use of tear gas, and the disappearance or assassination of social leaders (1,409 social leaders were assassinated in Colombia between 2016 and 2022). Nationalist responses to the global crisis of capitalism have also shifted to strategies such as “policies of social reconciliation and forgiveness”, in which the idea of pacification is embraced as a principle to overcome inequality. However, as we shall see, the basis of peace remains the guarantee of production and its conditions of operation.

The development explanation, which has been strongly challenged for three decades (Escobar 1998), is regaining relevancy, and is considered a necessary condition for political management. It does so in such a way that it has been accompanied by adjectives or conditions which consider it an alternative: sustainable development, community development, social development… in all these terms the notion of progress remains intact[5]. This guarantee that is often used as an adjective is driven by voices that appeared critical of the political and economic system.

The strike, which was a demonstration of strength, art, joy, and a forceful rejection of traditional politics and reforms, went beyond the siege of redistribution and justice, although it did have a strong national narrative. The lack of seriousness in linking the strike to the triumph of the left for the first time in Colombia is related to at least two premises. The first one is the historical construction of a left that for years was construed as being merely a struggle for state power — a heavy burden that materializes in the efforts to lead and translate that which is beyond the state jurisdiction into democratic demands.

The second is the impotence or the blockage of the political imagination that, in the context of strong repression and the rise of increasingly authoritarian right-wing and left-wing governments, corners us into making the argument that civil rights are the sole option to limit such an advance. The limiting of possibilities and the persecution of peoples, organizations, women, and migrants seems to be based on the urgency to tie politics to the state when it has clearly gone somewhat off the rails. It seems that the figures who speak from new perspectives and experiences are now considered viable options for government. Figures such as Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez not only represent and speak from a different point of view, they also speak against characteristic personifications of the state. But how far can personal capacity limit or bind the state?

The urgency of speaking and thinking in terms that are not catalogued as traditional politics does not in itself imply a radical displacement of politics itself. In Colombia, política de amor was presented as an inclusive concept in which the state could be something different. It was an idea where production is the beginning and end to guaranteeing welfare. In short, the politics presented by the first left-wing government proposed redeeming the state through redistribution, as is laid out in the “Colombia, potencia mundial de la vida: Plan Nacional de Desarrollo 2022–2026” development plan (DNP 2023).

The political strategy of reconciliation and forgiveness at the core of política de amor is a necessary condition for the reproduction of the state as a determining agent after a crisis, as stated in the Plan Nacional de Desarrollo 2022-2026: Colombia, Potencia Mundial de la Vida: “the time has come to … change through a Pacto Histórico that urgently specifies a new social contract for good living” where discontent can be transformed into a new negotiation of the contract with the state, without the state being challenged in its role as determinant of collective life. The exercise of determining politics and the dominion of arms is renewed through a process of inclusion in the expanded incorporation of reconciliation (Rodríguez Aza, M. n.d.). 

Apparently, this negotiation takes place between victims and victimizers, between the historically excluded and the historically privileged, who, confronted individually or as a group (businessmen, workers, women, students, and peasants), recognize themselves as agents devoid of the capacity to exact revenge or self-determination. In this negotiation, the policy based on the identification of an “other” (Schmitt 1999) is reiterated; therefore, reconciliation takes place between two opposites that will be mediated by a neutral third party, i.e. the state. 

The nadies who contested everything were summoned to the great historical pact of the política de amor. These nobodies achieved the feat during the strike and with the emergence of new organizational processes which undermined the traditional political power bases. These nadies were called upon to be protagonists under the reconciliation pact of the new government. In a sort of separation between government and state, an attempt was made to compensate for the neutrality or externality of the state in the attacks, or the violence that now must be excused or managed through the same apparatus responsible for the repression and persecution. 

The new pact proposed by the government includes the promise of a state that is present and that is a guarantor of rights, a social state of law that is finally realized through military and institutional presence, as Gustavo Petro has repeatedly reiterated. The nadies must then occupy a space that is mediated by the state, so that in a judicial or symbolic way those responsible for dispossession, repression, persecution, and inequality are singled out and held accountable. Once the ritual of reconciliation has been conjured up, the state attributes to itself an externality between the two parties; it abstracts itself from the historical conditions that have allowed violence and grants itself legitimacy as a neutral arbiter. 

It is still important not to overlook the state, as well as its involvement in society, and seek guarantees of civil rights. In the face of these new agreements, it is fundamental to ask ourselves questions, instead of affirming that we are witnessing the first possibility of real change in the hands of a leftist government. It is necessary to rethink why this moment appears to be the resolution of a trajectory of struggle, just as it is pertinent to question how the efforts of the strike, its demands, and the organizational possibilities get translated into the always-entangled language of the state.

The social reconciliation that would come from the hands of a state that is no longer absent, and to which the left and a network of popular social and community organizations had bet on, must ensure that the government deploys logistical and economic resources to channel and maintain that support. Instead of dwelling on the infinite possibilities of the strike, there is the opportunity to formulate public policies and concerted plans to guarantee that the people continue to support the new government.

Once again, the nationalist response to the aggravated crisis of reproduction of the capitalist state drowns out the voice of the streets, as the global crisis worsens and demonstrates that states merely seek to manage conflicts, while capital moves to where it is guaranteed the conditions for expansion through investment or mineral extraction.

It is not a matter of personal will, nor betraying the voters who formed part of numerous acts of resistance, but rather a form of capital that is structured around the class relation in which labour is bought and sold, which requires the exercise of necessary force and conditions that guarantee such exchange (Marx 1990 (1867). Although there is talk of confidence in change, it is a resignation to capitalism and the willingness to manage in its margins policies of comparatively lower aggression, still within the continuity of exploitation. The purpose is to ensure that the necessary exploitation is developed in such a way that productivity ensures redistribution, in which the role of the state is only maintained from the reproduction of capital as the dominant social relation. With the above, we must rethink the way we relate to the state and the organizational strategies that are deployed. 

I reiterate, it is not a matter of not seeing the state, but rather of trying to shift the focus of the efforts of struggle away from civil rights and the exhausting nature of the technocracy, to appeal to the contestation of the state as the political form of capital and to dismantle its false neutrality, whatever its face may be. It involves shifting the urgency to think and reflect, not about the constitution of a new government, but rather the imminent and internal challenges for other struggles and their relationship with the state.

In order to question us in discomfort, we must rely on memory[6] and assume that it is continuously encountering the formality in which the state is inscribed as the determiner of truth. Memory pushes us to see beyond the defeats and the continuities of struggles and resistance to see what could have been possible and what can still be realized. In a similar way, understanding the global relationship of capitalism through memory opens up the panorama of understanding political phenomena that we read as merely local. For example, in India[7] “politics of love” was also utilized but was unsuccessful, in part because of the emotional overload that is enunciated independently of the context in which it emerges. 

The fact that reconciliation relies on emotions is due to the historical impact of the pains from the violence of state management. The statements made by the mothers of the disappeared or of assassinated leaders are the ones that push the state toward a discourse of the recognition of responsibility, and to consequently propose reconciliation. However, these pains speak not only of individualized emotions; they are pains that arise from the repressive politics that guarantee the realization of value. Love as a Manichean concept that overcomes hatred is not enough; institutionalized forgiveness is not enough; redistribution is not enough.

Starting a text is uncomfortable, but concluding one is frightening. This is especially true when your conclusion seems naïve because after proposing questions, you end by citing others instead of giving a clear answer or proposal. Nevertheless, my proposal is to keep seeking answers and not end the discussion. I leave with these questions: How can political positions be managed so as to strengthen social struggles? How can the onslaught of the state be assumed and understood? What is the limit of the relationship with bureaucracy? Why is social reconciliation necessary when the structural conditions of violence and dispossession have not changed? How can we maintain an indeterminate and emergent perspective? Do we still believe in the abandonment of the state?



Archila Neira, M., M. García, L. Parra, G. María, and A. Restrepo (2022), Cuando la copa se rebosa: luchas sociales en Colombia, 1975–2015, Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular/Programa por la Paz-Cinep. 

Bautista, F. J. (2018), “Violencia híbrida: una ilustración del concepto para el caso de Colombia”, Revista de Cultura de paz, vol. 2, pp. 295–321.

Blair Trujillo, E. (2009), “Aproximación teórica al concepto de violencia: avatares de una definición”, Política y cultura, vol. 32, pp. 9–33.

Benjamin, Walter (1999a), Poesía y Capitalismo: Iluminaciones II. Buenos Aires: Taurus. 

——— (1999b), The Arcades Project, translated by Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

——— (2007), Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, translated by Harry Zohn, New York: Schocken Books.

——— (2008), Tesis sobre la historia y otros fragmentos, translated by Bolívar Echeverría, Mexico City: Editorial Itaca.

Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica (2015a), Con licencia para desplazar. Masacres y reconfiguración territorial en Tibú, Catatumbo, Bogotá: CNMH.

——— (2015b), Una nación desplazada: informe nacional del desplazamiento forzado en Colombia, Bogotá: CNMH – UARIV.

Comisión de la Verdad (2022), No matarás. Hay futuro si hay verdad: Informe Final de la Comisión para el Esclarecimiento de la Verdad, la Convivencia y la No Repetición, 1st edn., Bogotá: Comisión de la Verdad.

Departamento Nacional de Planeación (DNP) (2023), “Plan Nacional de Desarrollo 2022–2026”, available at https://colaboracion.dnp.gov.co/CDT/Prensa/Publicaciones/plan-nacional-de-desarrollo-2022-2026-colombia-potencia-mundial-de-la-vida.pdf. Last accessed on 12 March 2024.

El Espectador (2021), “Colombia, entre los 30 países con mayor gasto militar en 2020, pese a pandemia”, 26 April, available at https://www.elespectador.com/politica/colombia-entre-los-30-paises-con-mayor-gasto-militar-en-2020-pese-a-pandemia-article/. Last accessed on 12 March 2024.

Escobar, A. (1998), La invención del Tercer Mundo: construcción y deconstrucción del Desarrollo, Barcelona: Editorial Norma.

González Cruz, E., P. Doulos, and M. Rodríguez Aza (2023), “El paro colombiano 2021: poéticas rebeldes, rituales de perdón y crisis”, Iztapalapa. Revista de ciencias sociales y humanidades, vol. 44, no. 95, pp. 319–47.

Hirsch, J. (1978), “The State Apparatus and Social Reproduction: Elements of a Theory of the Bourgeois State”, State and Capital: A Marxist Debate, edited by J. Holloway and S. Picciotto, London: Edward Arnold. 

——— (2017), “Retrospectiva sobre el debate”, Estado y capital: El debate alemán sobre la derivación del Estado, edited by A. Bonnet and A. Piva, pp. 27–38.

Holloway, J. (1995), “From scream of refusal to scream of power: the centrality of work”, Open Marxism, edited by Werner Bonefeld, Richard Gunn, and Kosmas Psychopedis, London: Pluto Press. 

Jáuregui Sarmiento, D. (2022), “¿Por qué Colombia es la democracia más antigua de América Latina?”, Señal Colombia, 14 February, available at https://www.senalcolombia.tv/cultura/colombia-democracia-antigua. Last accessed on 12 March 2024.

Marx, K. (1990 [1867]), Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, vol. 1, translated by B. Fowkes, London: Penguin Classics. 

Mora Cortés, A. F. (2013), Conflicto, violencia socioeconómica y desplazamiento forzado en Colombia, Cuadernos de Economía, vol. 32, no. 61, pp. 721–54.

Rivera, E. D. J. V. (2007), “Historia del paramilitarismo en Colombia”, História (São Paulo), vol. 26, pp. 134–53.

Rodríguez Aza, M. (n.d.) The No-bodies: Between Forgiveness and Overflow: Notes Against Forgiveness as a Dispositive of Control in Times of Explicit Antagonism (forthcoming).

Rojas, C., and E. Maldonado (2023), Civilización y violencia: la búsqueda de la identidad en el siglo XIX en Colombia, Bogotá: Editorial Pontificia Universidad Javeriana.

Schmitt, C. (1999), El concepto de lo politico, Barcelona: Alianza Editorial.

Serje, M. (2012), “El mito de la ausencia del Estado: la incorporación económica de las ‘zonas de frontera’ en Colombia”, Cahiers des Amériques latines, available at http://journals.openedition.org/cal/2679. Last accessed on 12 March 2024.

Temblores ONG, Indepaz y Pais (2021), “Informe a la CIDH sobre la violación sistemática de la Convención Americana y los alcances jurisprudenciales de la CIDH con respect al uso de la fuerza pública contra la sociedad civil en Colombia, en el marco de las protestas acontecidas entre el 28 de abril y el 12 de mayo de 2021”, available at https://indepaz.org.co/informe-de-temblores-ong-e-indepaz-a-la-cidh. Last accessed on 12 March 2024.

Vega, C. R. (2015), “La dimensión internacional del conflicto social y armado en Colombia Injerencia de los Estados Unidos, contrainsurgencia y terrorismo de Estado”, Conflicto Social y Rebelión armada en Colombia: Ensayos críticos, Bogotá: Gentes del Común.

Vélez, C. (2020), “Duque ante la pandemia: decretando para el sector financiero”, Informes Derechos Humanos Colombia, 7 October, available at https://informesderechoshumanos.com/ii-pandemia-desigualdad-y-autoritarismo/duque-ante-la-pandemia-decretando-para-el-sector-financiero/. Last accessed on 12 March 2024.


  1. 1

     Violence refers to the bipartisan confrontation between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party that resulted in ten years of war and more than 200,000 dead. The pacification of this period comes with what is known as the Frente Nacional, signed by Laureano Gómez and Alberto Lleras, leaders of the parties in dispute; this agreement consisted of the alternation between conservative and liberal governments in Colombia.  

  2. 2

    During the Strike of 2021 in Colombia los nadies was a statement that brought together people who attended the streets to protest. From there it is proposed to think Lxs nadies or The No-bodies as the possibility of the overflow of sectoral forms of enunciation, in which the representable within the State seems to be exhausted. This proposal is being developed on a text that is in the process of publication.

  3. 3

    According to Hirsch (2017), the state is not an “autonomous” political apparatus that can be limited by certain external social constrictions, understanding external as the sphere of the economy, and internal as what in the broad sense is considered political (governmental), or in charge of social reproduction or administration. For Hirsch, and for this paper, the state is understood as a “historical product, a historically determined form of the organization of domination; and which, being historical, has its foundations both in the form of production and social reproduction that characterizes the bourgeois relation of production and class relations resulting from it”. 

  4. 4

    Internal Enemy (Enemigo interno) was a policy that began as a military strategy and concluded that it was "necessary to form, support and train counterinsurgent forces, due to the shortcomings of the Army" (Vega, 2020: 33) and operated as a stigma against opponents, under the argument that behind their actions were the tentacles of international communism.

  5. 5

    On progress, see Thesis IX of Walter Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History” (Benjamin 2007, 257–58).

  6. 6

    For more on memory see Benjamin 1999a, 1999b, and 2008.

  7. 7

    I am grateful for the comments made by Fathima Nizaruddin in this regard and during the workshop Authoritarian Capitalism, Violence and Resistance in Times of Collapse, where the draft of this text was presented.  

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