Colombia’s coffee growers federation Fedecafe on Sunday rejected an imminent growers’ strike and calls on protesting farmers who demand more help from the government to negotiate.
Fedecafe, the federation representing Colombia’s coffee growing industry, said it supported President Juan Manuel Santos who on Saturday said a strike would be “unjustified,” claiming his government has spent most money in support of the ailing industry compared to any previous administration.
“We agree with this qualification of the protests as ‘unjust’ because not only are we witnesses, we are also beneficiaries of decisive governmental aid and because at the root and direction of the convoked mobilization there is clear manipulation for political reasons,” said Fedecafe chief Luis Genaro Muñoz in a press release.
Tens of thousands of coffee growers are planning to strike Monday to demand in increase in subsidies for the coffee sector.
Strike organizers say current subsidies are not enough to prevent small growers from losing money per bag of produced coffee.
“[Farmers] are paid $282 for a sack of coffee but the cost of producing it is $366,” he said. “These are small farmers. They are poor. The culture of coffee growing is important to Colombia but we cannot continue like this…We are facing an economic crisis, a social crisis, an institutional crisis and a crisis of production,” strike organizer Victor Correa told Colombia Reports in January.
Marina Velez, a coffee grower and president of her local growers association told this website that, “International brands and middlemen in Colombia are getting money…but we are not getting enough to live on.”
The coffee growers strike aims to block national highways across 12 departments of Colombia, in what they call an attempt to save an industry for which Colombia is famous.
The coffee export industry is going through tough times because disappointing harvests throughout Latin America and the appreciation of the peso has made Colombian coffee expensive for foreign importers.
- Press release Fedecafe
- Speech President Juan Manuel Santos