The Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, tried today unsuccessfully to stop the strike of thousands of coffee growers nationwide to protest “the government no attention to the sector’s repeated demands.”
In a message broadcast by television media, Santos said growers have never been alone, noting that “most of the members of that sector are not supporting the strike since they consider it makes no sense and goes against their federation”.
We are going to say to President Santos that this is not a poker game. This is a matter of hunger, ruin, and a poverty that we had not ever felt, said Francisco Herrera, one of the strike leaders who was quoted by the newspaper El Espectador.
The problems of the coffee union are so big that we are about to disappear, said one of the strikers in the department of Huila.
Our indignation is due to abuse of Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo, and the Coffee Federation president, Luis Genaro Muñoz, who said that our marches are infiltrated by politicians and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army guerrilla, which we deny, he said.
Meanwhile, the delegate of the Council for the National Cocoa Defense in the department of Santander, Omar Acevedo, confirmed that the intention of the strike is a peaceful protest to demand the government best prices and total control of smuggling and excessive grain imports.