Colombia’s government on Tuesday reached an agreement that will lift the strike in the port city of Buenaventura.
In the early hours of the morning a deal was brokered that sees the government invest $517 million in resources in sectors such as housing, infrastructure, public service and justice.
In addition, the government agreed to provide extra funding for rural aqueducts, investment in the sewage system, improved access to drinking water, a new hospital and a renewal project for the Marino Klinger stadium bringing an end to 22 days of strike action.
The final agreement was signed at 8am after more than 15 hours of negotiations bringing an immediate end to the blockade with the order being given to lift all obstructions allowing vehicles to pass and normal trade to resume at the port.
The negotiations were attended by representatives of the UN, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Office of the Prosecutor General, the Catholic church and the government of the Valle del Cauca province who finalized the terms that will be put to Congress on July 20 stipulating a 10-year development plan for the region.
Fed up with state neglect, Buenaventura shuts down Colombia’s largest port, hitting Bogota where it hurts
The strike action in Buenaventura resulted from decades of utter neglect of the region coupled with unfulfilled promises by successive governments to address the situation in the port city.
Despite the fact that Buenaventura’s port generates $1.8 billion in revenue for the Colombian government each year, only 3% of that money ends up in the city of Buenaventura.
The city has long suffered extreme poverty; half of Buenaventura’s 400,000 residents have no public access to safe drinking water. Furthermore, the city suffers from extreme violence related to drug trafficking and corruption levels considered exceptional even for Colombian standards.
Local corruption is also a pressing problem for Buenaventura’s residents. The city’s three former mayors are in prison for corruption, the current mayor is investigated, and even the former prison director is in prison for corruption.
During the protests in Buenaventura, authorities detained 41 people who participated in vandalism and looting of shops, where 10 policemen were also injured.