Govt-displaced talks reach deadlock

Negotiations between local government officials and 2,500 displaced people in the town of Taraza in the Antioquia department have reached a deadlock as the farmers demand an end to crop fumigation, Caracol Radio reported Wednesday.

Delegates from Social Action, a presidential program dedicated to helping Colombia’s vulnerable populations, withdrew from the stagnated talks to report back to the national government on the displaceds’ demand that Vice President Angelino Garzon, former Senator Piedad Cordoba and Senator Ivan Cepeda attend the discussions.

Local mayor Joan Andres Restrepo also requested the presence of delegates from the national government and the National Drug Council, who have so far been absent, to help negotiate the terms on which the farmers and their families return to their land.

The apparently voluntary displacement is in protest against the government’s aerial fumigation, which is targeted at coca crops. The farmers say this has also detroyed crops such as cacao, yucca and plantain. Antioquia Government Secretary Andres Julian Rendon has claimed that the protests are caused by pressure from the FARC’s 36th and 18th Fronts.

Some of the displaced population have failed to complete a census, which the Director of Human Rights for the Antioquia department Carlos Vallejo says makes it harder to address their requirements.

In Taraza, of the 2,171 displaced persons who were a part of the census, 1650 came from Ituango, an area pressured by the FARC, according to Caracol. Of these, 35 are teachers who came accompanied by their students, amounting to 280 children and adolescents.

The Taraza government estimated that there are 1,000 more who did not complete the census, for reasons unexplained.

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