The Colombian vice-minister of agriculture and the leaders of the nationwide agrarian strike have failed to come to an agreement as the demonstrations enter their fifth day, local media reported.
The negotiations were suspended by Vice-Minister of Agriculture Hernan Roman on Wednesday after he received a message stating that Agrarian Dignity spokesperson, Cesar Pachon, had posted a comments on social media which the government say encouraged violent acts during the strikes, El Tiempo Reported.
“We were informed of some situations going on the roads, with disorders and somehow blocking the traffic. This led us to decide to stop the negotiations, taking into account the agreements we had on the table,” Roman said.
However, the vice-minister did not dismiss the idea of further negotiations and stated the government is interested in continuing talks with the agrarian leaders.
“We [the government] will continue with this spirit [negotiation], if and only if they do not incite actions that go against public order.”, Roman said.
Pachon dismissed the accusations of inciting violence and stated that “one thing has nothing to do with the other, I publish on my page whatever I want and I don’t think it’s offensive, I didn’t tell them to burn tires and block roads,” RNC Radio reported.
According to Colombia’s chief of Police, General Roberto Palomino, 14 people have been arrested for unlawfully erecting roadblocks in different parts of the country and a total 27 police officers have been injured in the first three days of the strike.
“The fact that the government ended the negotiations on Wednesday is either an excuse or an irresponsible thing to do,” Victor Correa, Spokesperson for the Coffee Grower’s Dignity (Dignidad Cafetera) told Colombia Reports — adding that the negotiations are meant to find solutions to the serious issues facing farmers in the country.
He voiced the disappointment by leaders at the absence of Colombian Agriculture Minister Ruben Dario Lizarralde from the latest round of talks on Wednesday.
“The government is not taking the negotiations seriously” Correa said.
Responding to criticism regarding the agrarian talks, Lizzardo excused himself by stating that he had been in the state of Santander on Wednesday to discuss issues with local farmers, El Tiempo reported.
Farmers are now seeking to negotiate directly with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos after the minister informed agrarian leaders during a previous meeting that only the President had the power to take certain decisions regarding the demands.
According to Correa, no further negotiations have been scheduled at this time as agrarian leaders await a government response.
- Interview with Victor Correa (Colombia Reports)
- Por un trino se suspendió negociación entre Gobierno y campesinos ( El Tiempo)
- Crece incertidumbre sobre continuidad o no de diálogos entre Gobierno y campesinos (RCN Radio)