Ongoing demonstrations in the northeast of Colombia have resulted in losses totaling millions of dollars, local media reported Friday.
The Norte de Santander branch of the Colombian federation of freight transport (Colfecar) have experienced losses in turnover of approximately $3.7 million during the 37 days of protests, the organization told local news outlets.
Leonardo Mendez, Colfecar’s regional director, said the number of vehicles traveling to the Catatumbo region where the social unrest is taking place had dropped “from 100 to 15 or 20” since the beginning of the demonstrations.
Further concern for Mendez is the security of his drivers, he said. “There have already been four cars burned during the protest and with the situation in the department as it is it is very difficult to travel.”
Mendez revealed that when protests spread to Ocaña, Colfecar vehicles traveling from Bucaramanga would spend a further eight hours than usual.
Demonstrations have been ongoing in the region of Catatumbo since June, as peasants seek the creation of rural reserve zones. Scenes turned violent, however, as farmers clashed with the security forces leaving four dead and many injured.
The national federation of palm growers, Jens Mesa, said the “situation is out of hand.”
Mesa claimed that the demonstrations in Catatumbo had cost the oil palm industry approximately $5.3 million.
Mesa explained, “In Catatumbo palm growers have not been able to reap or mobilize approximately 30,000 tonnes of the date fruit.”
“This has adversely affected approximately 6,000 families in the region, whose revenue has been reduced due to the lack of economic activity,” added Mesa.