In an apparent attempt to decrease escalated tensions between Colombia’s authorities and striking economic sectors, farmers from the most heavily struck areas on Friday announced they’d be lifting roadblocks.
The announcement of the farmers from the departments of Boyaca, Nariño, and Cundinamarca came after a day of extreme violence that erupted on Thursday in the capital Bogota and the country’s second largest city Medellin.
The severe riots killed at least five people, injured 200, and spurred the government into ordering the military to take control of public security in Bogota, where riots and looting lasted until late Thursday evening.
The farmers’ roadblocks had been one of the government’s main objections regarding the form of the protests and had resulted in the death of one civilian in Boyaca who wasn’t able to reach a hospital on time.
In a press conference, the farmers announced they would unblock the roads and called on other protesters to cooperate in unnerving the escalated protests.
“We maintain our disposition to talks and invite the protesters to maintain the strike [while] allowing the free transit of vehicles, setting ourselves up alongside the roads,” said a farmer spokesman.
According to newspaper El Espectador, the Colombian government is willing to resume talks with the strikers if roadblocks are lifted. The talks may be resumed as early as Saturday, said the newspaper.
Government sources told El Espectador that the talks with the strikers may be moved from the regions to the capital.
Security forces have been trying to remove roadblocks that have been put up throughout the country since Monday last week. These operations led to numerous clashes with farmers, miners and truckers who — all for their own reasons — have simultaneously laid down work.