A number of states and cities in Colombia were cut off on Monday due to road-blocks erected by demonstrators taking part in agrarian strike that kicked off early in the morning.
The coordinated demonstrations by members of Colombia’s agrarian community alongside small-scale miners seeks to highlight issues facing their respective sectors, and address promises which they say were not fulfilled by the government after similar protests last year.
In Bogota, transporters joined the strike and left their trucks at retail center Corabastos early in the morning, forcing the army to militarize the city’s main food distribution center.
At the capital city’s National University, violence erupted between protesting students and riot police.
The main concentrations of protesters affecting traffic in Huila are in the municipality of Pitalito as well as the state’s capital Neiva. The majority of the protesters in the state are reported to be coffee growers demonstrating on the side of the roads.
Public transport from the southern Putumayo and Caqueta states has stopped from the main bus terminal to other parts of the country as demonstrators reportedly occupy the bridge of the Suaza river, connecting the department with the neighboring Huila.
Another area where an accumulation of protests was reported is Colombia’s iconic coffee region where coffee farmers have gathered in several towns and along several roads.
The farmers went on strike for the second time in a year to demand the government keep the promises made after August when, pressured by ongoing economic hardship, the farmers took to the roads and disrupted road travel in Colombia for weeks.
Most ongoing protests and road blocks are reportedly attended by between 30 and 120 farmers and appear less massive than last year when tens of thousands of farmers, miners and truckers laid down work.
The August strikes were finally ended after government concessions supposed to alleviate the rural population’s economic problems. According to the current strikers, the government has failed to honor these agreements. The government has denied this.