President puts more troops on streets as protests become violent
President Juan Manuel Santos has been forced to put as many as 50,000 soldiers onto the streets of major towns and cities, including the capital Bogota, following continued protests which turned violent yesterday.
Various local newspapers are reporting that two people died and dozens were injured following protests by tens of thousands of people with some clashing with police. The strikes, which have been going on since June have involved a widening number of groups including health workers, coffee farmers, truckers, university teachers, rice growers, sugar cane cutters, peasants in Putumayo and miners.
The Colombia Reports website has published an informative article as to why each group is striking and protesting. You can find that report in full here.
The report states that:
• Health workers are striking against recent health sector reforms passed by Congress.
• Coffee farmers are striking because the sector claims that subsidies promised by the government to compensate for falling international coffee prices has never reached farmers.
• Truckers are striking against high gasoline prices.
• University teachers are striking over the government’s alleged failure to honor agreements made after earlier strikes this year.
• Miners have been striking since July 17 demanding the repeal of a decree that orders for the destruction of machinery used in the informal, and according to the law illegal mining industry.
• Rice growers are striking as the government has failed to respond to their letters, in which they have put forward a four point plan that they feel could bring the sector out of its current state of crisis.
• Sugar cane cutters want to be directly hired for the companies that they work for.
Putumayo peasants are striking because they disapprove of the government’s manual eradication of coca in the region.