A spokesman for peasants in the northeast of the country said that demonstrators will clear a road connecting one of the region’s main towns to the department capital, local media reported Wednesday.
Strike leader Cesar Jerez told newspaper El Tiempo that protesters will unblock the road that connects department capital Cucuta and the town of Tibu this Saturday, as a gesture of goodwill to the government.
The decision was welcomed by President Juan Manuel Santos.
“I want to celebrate that decision, it is the right decision. As we have said many times, social protest is legitimate and acceptable. However protesting is one thing and blockades and violence are another” said the president on his website.
Santos stated two weeks ago that the resumption of talks in Catatumbo was dependent on the unblocking of roads, as nearby towns felt the economic impact of these blockages.
A commission of politicians will arrive in Tibu on Friday, in an attempt to facilitate an end to demonstrations which have lasted 52 days and taken the lives of four farmers.
Vice-President Angelino Garzon will lead the commission and stated that the government will resume dialogue with farmers, once the blockades have been cleared.
The situation in Catatumbo escalated when weeks after peaceful protests began, local farmers began blocking roads and riot police were sent to the area. In clashes that followed, four farmers were killed and some 50 people — farmers and policemen alike — were injured.
The Catatumbo region, located at the Venezuelan border, is one of the most troubled regions in Colombia as it has become a major hub for drug trafficking to Venezuela and leftist rebel groups like the FARC and ELN exercise strong control in the remote area.
- Presidente celebra decisión de levantar los bloqueos en el Catatumbo (President’s Office)