A collective of leftist organizations and representatives of ethnic minorities on Monday joined ongoing strikes carried out by farmers, miners and truckers in Colombia’s countryside.
Who does the Agrarian Summit represent?
One of Colombia’s largest leftist collective, farmers, indigenous people and Afro-Colombians, united in the so-called Agrarian Summit (Cumbre Agraria Campesina Etnica y Popular), told Colombia Reports that the government’s noncompliance with the agreements were the main reason for the strikes.
Additionally, the collective of striking organizations demand far-stretching changes in Colombia’s economic system and joined rebel group FARC in a call to organize a constituent assembly to reform the country’s constitution.
The summit, which consists of indigenous organization ONIC, leftist political movement Patriotic March, and a number of smaller organizations, is separate, but supportive of the ongoing strikes organized by the Agriculture Dignity movement that laid down work a week ago already.
Cesar Pachon, a leader of the Farmers’ Dignity movement that went on strike last week already, confirmed to Colombia Reports that his organization is friendly with the Agrarian Summit, but decided to stay independent because of the political nature of the demands of the fellow-strikers.
The farmers’ strike is solely about improving the economic situation of farmers and does not want to get involved with other political issues facing Colombia, said Pachon.
What is the Agrarian Summit?
“[The Agrarian Summit] represents the economic, social, environmental, cultural and territorial political demands of historically marginalized and excluded communities, is a wake-up call to the national government on the urgency of structurally addressing problems of the rural population that wants to claim its rights,” says the Patriotic March on its website.
The Summit brings together 30 thousand people from all over the country, claims the organization led by former Senator Piedad Cordoba.
The purpose of the collective’s strike is to force the government to comply with agreements made at the end of national strikes last year.
“[We agreed on] days of mobilization and agrarian strike motivated by the breach of the agreements by the government, poor economic policy in the agricultural sector and effective response to our eight-point list of demands.”
A number of the group demands are related to changes in Colombian economic policies and the expansion of ongoing talks with rebel groups.
The social movements of the Agrarian Strike will take place all over the country.
Negotiations with the government
Representatives of the Agrarian Summit met with president Juan Manuel Santos on April 11, agreeing on creating a United National Table to negotiate the summit’s demands.
Santos appointed Interior Minister Aurelio Iragorri to be the government’s negotiator with the strikers.
A second meeting between representatives of the summit and the Minister of Interior took place on Tuesday in Bogota while talks are expected to continue as the strike develops.
The Agrarian Summit’s goals are not entirely agricultural; the collective declared to be in favor of ongoing peace talks between the government and Colombia’s largest rebel group FARC. In addition, it urged the government to initiate similar peace talks with the smaller rebel group ELN and drug trafficking organization EPL.
“We recognize the right to ask that political negotiations with Colombian insurgency FARC-EP be maintained and bear fruits and that the rapprochement with ELN and EPL continue, as a fundamental step in the complex construction of peace with social justice among Colombians,” said the organization on the Patriotic March website.
The last of the eight demands focuses on the ongoing armed conflict and calls for ceasefire and a political solution to the armed conflict.
- Interview with Gonzalo Wolhmeyer Gomez (Agrarian Unity Table)
- Declaracion Politica Cumbre Agraria: Campesina, Etnica y Popular (Patriotic March)
- Pliego de exigencias: Mandatos para el buen-vivir, la democracia y la paz (Patriotic March)
- Cumbre Nacional Agraria: campesina, étnica y popular (Prensa Rural)