A farmers protest camp in north Colombia is reporting 30 cases of dengue fever and malaria, according to local media sources.
Since the start of the national agricultural strikes on August 19, more than 3,000 farmers have been camping alongside a highway in the department of Santander. The highway connects the department’s capital Bucaramanga with major city Barrancabermeja. Their protest has been peaceful, free of roadblocks and free of encounters with the police. But now their camp is facing a different type of attack.
Spokesman for the protest Wilson Vega told reporters that at least 30 protesters are infected with dengue fever and malaria, painful and often fatal tropical diseases spread by mosquito’s.
The onset of the rainy season in Colombia has meant floods in the area around the camp, he said, and floods mean mosquitos. The Protesters have considered moving to another site, but they are waiting on permission from the government to do so.
More importantly, though, the protesters are waiting for medical attention. Vega says medical authorities have yet to establish a presence at the camp, despite repeated requests on the part of protesters and promises made as a part of ongoing negotiations with the departmental government.
Protesters sat down with the Santander government on August 30th, and have been negotiating a series of issues pertaining to local agriculture and mining ever since, including land rights disputes involving multinational mining companies.
Vega said the protesters will not go home until some sort of deal is reached. He is calling on the government to show support for peaceful, respectful protest, and intend to infected farmers before the disease has the time to spread through the camp.
- Epidemias tocan a campesinos concentrados en paro agrario en Santander (Caracol Radio)
- 30 casos de paludismo y dengue se registran entre los campesinos que permanecen a paro agrario en Santander (CM&)
- Alerta por casos de paludismo y dengue en concentraciones campesinas del paro en Santander (Vanguardia)