The city of Popayan in southwestern Colombia was reportedly “shut off” from the rest of the country Monday, and as a result, citizens are living through a “critical situation” due to the country-wide coffee strike.
The governor of the southwestern Cauca department on Sunday said that road blocks on routes leading up to Popayan had thrust the city into a “dramatic situation.”
“The situation is very complicated, there is hopelessness, angst and anger. [We demand] an immediate solution,” said governor Temistocles Ortega Narvaez.
The city on Monday reported a complete lack of basic food stuffs due to the difficulties of transporting goods. Movement within the city was similarly limited due to congestion and a lack of gasoline, while local hospitals said their patients could be affected by the strike because the hospitals have not received their normal medical shipments. The latter led Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo to say that the road blocks “violated the right to life” as it was prohibiting ambulances from moving from one point to another.
Coffee strikers said on Saturday that they still had not reached an agreement with the government and that road blocks and protests would continue.
The strikers have demanded an increase in government subsidies in order to save their iconic industry. The Ministry of Agriculture responded by claiming that the coffee growers demands were “impossible” to live up to. The government offered to almost double subsidies for farmers with less than 20 hectares, which the coffee growers considered “insufficient.”
Reports of disturbances came flooding in on Monday from different regions of the country. In the south-central Huila department, authorities declared a “sanitary emergency” because trash could not be collected. In the northwestern Antioquia department, the road connecting the cities of Medellin and Ciudad Bolivar were reportedly blocked by protestors. Road blocks were also reported on 20 different roads in nine Colombian departments, prompting the country’s vice-president, Angelino Garzon, to ask the protesters to “allow medications [and] food” to pass through.
According to reports, 25 protestors were injured Saturday as Colombian riot police retook a road in Huila. The coffee farmers in this department said that they would consider marching to Colombia’s capital city of Bogota if the government did not acquiesce to their demands.
- Popayán está paralizada y aislada por los bloqueos (Caracol Radio)
- Press release (Cauca Governor’s Office)
- Emergencia sanitaria en el Huila por paro cafetero (Caracol Radio)
- Veinte vías nacionales bloqueadas por paro cafetero (RCN Radio)
- Exigencias de los cafeteros son imposibles de atender: Minagricultura (Caracol Radio)
- Gobierno pide a cafeteros dejar pasar misiones médicas en vías bloqueadas (Caracol Radio)
- 25 cafeteros heridos en enfrentamientos con la Policía en Garzón (RCN Radio)
- Paro cafetero llega a su segunda semana con bloqueos en vías (El Colombiano)
- Bloqueo de vías en paro cafetero vulnera derechos fundamentales: MinAgricultura (RCN Radio)