Two farmers were killed and at least 11 were injured in clashes with riot police in the northeast of Colombia Tuesday, the day Colombia’s government agreed to talk to the demonstrators.
During Tuesday’s violence, eleven protestors were injured by bullets, Surgey Montagut, the director of the local newspaper Ocaña 7 Dias, told Colombia Reports.
“There are 11 farmers with firearm wounds,” said Ocaña, adding that one police captain was also severely injured.
According to Caracol Radio, five of the injured were policemen. The radio station, which did not reveal its source, said the policemen were injured by projectiles shot at them by the protesters after which they opened fire at the protesters.
Human rights NGO Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective said on its website that according to “alternative media” one of the demonstrators was killed because police “indiscriminately” opened fire at protesters blocking a road connecting the towns of Ocaña and Concepcion. Montagut said two demonstrators were killed, but that the situation had become too dangerous for her reporters to go to the scene.
“It isn’t safe to go down there where the protests are because there are riots and shots are fired,” Montagut told this website.
Additionally, “the entrance of the hospital is restricted for journalists,” complicating the verification of the number of injuries and the identity of the injured.
So far, the social unrest that has been going on for two weeks cost the lives of four demonstrators and has injured some 30.
As violence seems to be escalating further in the already-troubled Catatumbo region, the government agreed to send a delegation to the region to talk to the protesters about their demands.
The locals want their region to have more autonomy and want the national government to stop eradicating coca crops until growers are able to grow alternative, legal crops.
The tensions between the farmers and the armed forces has grown so high that farmers’ leaders refuse to allow members of the security forces in talks that began Tuesday between the protesters and the government.
Despite Interior Minister Fernando Carrillo warning Monday that the government refuses to talk with the farmers until public order is restored, the High Commissioner for Public Diaglogue, Luis Eduardo Garzon, flew to Catatumbo to meet with the farmers’ leaders.