Agricultural strikes scheduled for April 28 are to go ahead as planned after talks with the government to prevent a shut-down led to no results, the farmers’ representatives said Thursday.
The Agricultural Dignity group (Dignidad Agropecuaria) released a statement that due to “unanswered requests for full implementation of signed agreements” made in 2013, the agricultural strike on April 28 will go ahead.
This strike will mark the third protest within a year following strikes in February and August of 2013. The previous strikes led to seemingly successful negotiations between the farmers and Santos administration; however, farmers now claim that the government has failed to implement the agreed-upon measures.
According to the statement, despite meetings with Interior Minister Aurelio Iragorri, Agricultural Minister Ruben Dario Lizarralde and Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas, the government has made no further progress in carrying out promises, leaving the agricultural community little option but to strike.
For example, the Colombian government “has not paid a single peso in 2014 to the growers who sold their grain to private buyers,” as agreed upon in the subsidy program created after the 2o13 strikes.
For many farmers, the subsidy program was desgined to ease losses, a longstanding problem which led many to take on large debts. Therefore one of the agreements made at the end of the last strikes stood to wipe away such debts and stop farmers from having their homes and land repossessed. According to farmers rights groups however, this has not happened.
The statement also berates the lack of action to control prices of important imports for the farmers such as fertilizers as well as the problem of smuggling.
According to the Agricultural Dignity group, measures such as the Pacific Alliance have simply “worsened” conditions for Colombian agriculture which will eventually lead to the “extinction” of a farmers way of life and livelihood.
“There is still time for the government to change its attitude and enforce the agreements…agriculture must be maintained as a strategic sector for national food security and sovereignty as well as being a source of income and employment for millions of households…time will prove us right.”
The agriculture strike will begin on the April 28 and will involve farmers from across Colombia’s agricultural sector.