Widespread anti-government strikes yesterday and today
Colombia experienced widespread strikes and violence yesterday in anti-government protests which were held in 12 of 32 departments in the country.
Minister of the Interior, Fernando Carrillo, said that about 60,000 people were involved in the strikes but organisers said the number was more like one million people. It is difficult to gauge the exact number as many of the strikes took place in rural areas and regional towns, with some areas cut off by road blocks placed by the protesters.
Farmers in the North-east region of Catatumbo have been on strike for weeks and yesterday they were joined by coffee, cacao, potato and rice farmers as well as cargo truck drivers, gold miners, teachers and other labour unions.
The strikers are demanding reduced fuel and fertilizer prices, the cancellation of free trade agreements, increased subsidies and the end of a crackdown on informal mining operations.
The strike became increasingly violent in some areas as 16,000 policemen were used to control the protests. Several local newspapers are reporting around 30 arrests with a number of people injured including policemen.
The strike continues today – Tuesday.