Colombia’s Defense Minister claimed on Thursday that armed groups are planning to infiltrate a national agricultural strike kicking off on Monday.
Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon stated at a meeting in the Pacific port city of Buenaventura that intelligence found out that illegal armed groups are trying to make their way in the national strikes.
"Hemos detectado que organizaciones criminales quieren infiltrar la protesta social a la que tienen derecho los ciudadanos": @mindefensa
— Mindefensa Colombia (@mindefensa) April 24, 2014
Colombia’s government commonly claims criminal infiltration in anti-government protests.
“As for the the citizens, as I said, it’s in their right to manifest their concerns and protest, we detected criminal organizations infiltrating or trying to be co-participants of the organization of these [strikes] activities” said Pinzon.
Pinzon stressed that it is crucial that the citizens participating in the strikes be conscious of these armed group and keep the anti-government protest orderly and peaceful.
“I think it is important that the country knows [about the armed groups] and it’s important that the citizens who participate in the strikes be aware so they won’t be manipulates,” the minister said.
Agrarian discontent led to major national strikes in August last year that resulted in violence and disruption across Colombia. Five people were killed in clashes with the police, 458 people were injured and hundreds temporarily jailed.
The agriculture strike will begin on Monday and involve farmers from across Colombia’s agricultural sector.