Representatives of the mass protests groups that on Monday paralysed the Colombian capital released a “final declaration,” calling on the government to act on rural issues before the May deadline.
The declaration — released by the “Agrarian Summit” as Colombian farmers marched through the streets of Bogota on Monday — outlined the failed promises made last fall by President Juan Manuel Santos to improve the declining rural situation.
This declaration also confirmed the possibility of renewed nationwide strikes by the agricultural community unless the government responds to the concerns adding, “the [Agricultural] Summit will extend the government’s response time until the first week of May.”
Contrary to recent reports by local media, representatives of the Agricultural Summit and protest groups have told Colombia Reports that no formal invitation by President Santos or the government has been made.
“There has not been any official invitiation so far,” Andres Gil, spokesperson for the “Marcha Patriotica” Movement, and César Jerez, representative of the National Association of Farming and Reservation (ANZORC) told Colombia Reports.
“The government has not invited us, and if they did we would only do it if there was a clear proposal and methodology by the president to address the issues that we have put forward,” Gil explained.
He emphasized that representatives of the summit and protest groups are open to constructive discussions with the government in order to reach a solution.
“We are not saying that we want to strike because we want to talk to the leaders [the government], we are stating this because the ‘campesino’ [farming] communities have seen that the government has not met its promises”, Gil said.
The sentiments of the representatives were reiterated on the Summit’s twitter feed, which stated “In conclusion, the Agricultural Summit decided to call for a new national strike in the beginning of May, unless Juan Manuel Santos negotiates.”
— Paro Agrario 2014 (@ParoAgrario2014) March 18, 2014
The declaration also lists proposals to solve the issues of crop substitution in many rural areas, proposals to protect minority groups and indigenous communities, and formalizing the development of rural communities.
For representative like Andres Gil, the problematic decline of Colombia’s rural areas is an issue that the government and President Santos need to promptly address.
“If it’s to take a photo next to president Santos while he gives a speech, then no, we won’t be meeting with him,” Gil added.
- Interview with Andres Gil (Colombia Reports)
- Interview with Cesar Jerez (Colombia Reports)
- Declaración política de la Cumbre Agraria: Campesina, Étnica y Popular (Agrarian Summit Press Release)
- El paro agrario se definirá tras una reunión con Santos (El Colombiano)
- La cita oculta del presidente Santos (Las 2 Orillas)