Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos ordered his ministers to continue talks with agricultural representatives after Monday saw mass demonstrations by farmers gripped the country’s capital Bogota.
Around 10,000 rural workers supported by representatives of Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities peacefully marched through central Bogota on Monday to protest government’s failure to enact its 2013 promises to improve the declining situation in rural areas, El Pais newspaper reported.
“I have instructed the Ministers to continue the dialogue, continue the process of information and conversation with the different agricultural sectors and farmers to comply with what was agreed [in 2013],” said Santos at the end of a Ministerial meeting held in the Caribbean Island of San Andres.
Santos added that the implementation of the government’s commitments made to the agrarian sector had been “positive” so far.
However, the protesters, led by agrarian leaders taking part in the National Agrarian Summit being held in Bogota, outlined a list of failed promises made by the government in the fall of 2013 after countrywide protests — including the rural development of schools, healthcare, and the protection of the agricultural industry.
According to protest leaders, Monday’s demonstrations through Bogota were used to highlight the shortcomings of the Santos government and added that a new nationwide strike similar to the ones last year will — according to El Tiempo newspaper — take place in late March or early April unless their demands are met.
“Whether or not there is a [nationwide] agrarian strike depends on the president Juan Manuel Santos,” Cesar Pachon, one of the leaders and organizers of Monday’s protests told Colombia Reports.
The 2013 strikes paralyzed much of the country as community leaders, students, coffee growers, and other members of the agrarian sector protested en masse through urban and regional areas demanding improvement of the situation in Colombia’s rural areas.
- Les he dado instrucciones a los ministros para que continúen diálogo con sectores campesinos: Presidente Santos (Presidential Press Release)
- Se han ‘cumplido compromisos’ con campesinos, dice presidente Santos (El Tiempo)
- Con bloqueos viales y choques con la policía finalizó marcha de campesinos en Bogotá (El Pais)
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