The Colombian government and farmers from the northeastern Catatumbo region on Tuesday agreed one the appointment of two mediators to end social unrest that killed four in the past three weeks.
Interior Minister Fernando Carrillo announced the appointment of deputy Labor Minister Jose Noe Rios and peace worker Ubencel Duque as mediators between Bogota and the peasants who are demanding increased autonomy and alternative crops for coca farmers.
“The main bottleneck in this entire dialogue has been the methodology. With this, we give full authorization to the moderators of both parties to set the rules of the game and we can move to substantive issues which is what the government is interested in,” said Carrillo.
The appointment of mediators was one of the demands of the protesting farmers who earlier that day had refused to travel to Bogota, claiming the government was not responding to conditions set for talks to take place.
Peasant leader Juan Carlos Quintero confirmed the appointment and said that the peasant leaders will travel to Bogota for talks with the government.
“Once the methodological part is overcome, the government will come to [the town of] Tibu to begin negotiations,” Quintero told Colombia Reports.
The Catatumbo farmers have been protesting and putting up roadblocks to support their demand for increased regional autonomy and a suspension of the eradication of coca crops until the government offers alternative crops to sustain themselves. Clashes between the demonstrators and riot police has left four dead and some 50 injured.
- Gobierno y campesinos designaron mediadores para iniciar negociación (W Radio)
- Interview with Juan Carlos Quintero of peasant association AsCamCat