Thousands of indigenous people and farmers on Tuesday took to the streets in southwest Colombia in support of the ongoing farmer’s strikes. Protesters explicitly demonstrated against free trade agreements (FTA’s).
The FTA’s have been a cause for concern for many primary and secondary industrial sectors. In May, following the creation of an FTA with the US, Colombian imports from the US jumped 15% while exports from Colombia fell by 13%.
The indigenous collective – the Association of Councils in Northern Cauca (ACIN) – told newspaper El Tiempo that “we believe that the national government has to give the farmers a solution, and take part in serious negotiations with all the sectors that are affected by unemployment.”
Feliciano Valencia, former presidential candidate and spokesperson for the ACIN also stated on his twitter feed that the march was against FTAs as a whole.
Contra los TLCs, contra la legislacion del despojo, contra las consesiones mineras y por la UNIDAD SOCIAL de los pueblos
— Feliciano Valencia (@FelicianoValen) September 2, 2013
The ACIN reported on their website that the march had occurred without incident and added that “the indigenous movement, like Afro-Colombians and peasants and reject economic policies that destroy peoples lives and land.”
Police forces supervising the protest also told El Tiempo that the protest was “a great example of communities throughout the country that had shown it is not necessary to cause roadblocks in order to protest.”
The peaceful nature of the march in Popayan was not repeated in other marches, with protests near the city of Florence involving road blocks and violence. Police reports claim that the protest had been infiltrated by guerillas and echoed concern that they were carrying weapons with them.