After more than 40 hours of the striking truckers’ blockades on main roads in Bogota, there is division among workers as whether to lift the blockage or continue halting transportation as leverage for negotiations, newspaper El Espectador reported Wednesday.
A representative from the Colombian Association of Truckers Cesar Pacheco asked his colleagues remove their trucks from blocking the roads to show the government that they are willing to talk and not use force.
However, the majority of truckers responded to his request with boos.
“Right now the government is going to open the negotiating table but the government has asked us to open a road. We have to demonstrate to society that we are willing to talk. But if we all put ourselves in a position to take the roads by means of force it is not going to solve anything and it will seem the government is right,” said Pacheco.
He added that lifting the blockage does not mean that they are ending the strike, and asked that the vehicles be pulled over to let traffic through while dialogue continues. Pacheco said that if nothing has been negotiated by the afternoon the truckers should to reinstate the blockade.
Critics of this perspective say that lifting the blockade will make all the trucker’s have done so far — 19 days of striking and almost two days of blocking roads — for nothing.
By order of the government, if the the blockade continues in the afternoon, the authorities should control the situation using force if necessary, but truckers warn that they will not give in easily.
Truckers have been striking to protest President Santos’ decision not to overturn a reform that eliminates fixed freight rates.