The Colombian government is continuing talks with leaders and representatives of the country’s farmers, in a bid to end nationwide strikes that began Monday, local media reported.
Victor Correa, spokesperson for the Coffee Growers’ Dignity (Dignidad Cafetera — DC), told Colombia Reports that talks between the government and agrarian groups are due to take place on Monday afternoon in a bid to resolve the impasse.
Correa added that the strikes are taking place in the the states of Boyaca, Cesar, Antioquia, Risaralda, Quindio, Tolima, Nariño, Casanare, Cauca, and Santander.
In an interview with Todelar Radio, Minister of Interior Aurelio Iragorri Valencia confirmed the meetings with “some agrarian dignity groups” were taking place on Monday, the first day of the planned nationwide strikes.
However, the minister did not specify how many or which groups he was talking to but confirmed that “the dialogue is still open.”
The Minister’s confirmation comes a day after a statement by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos reiterating that he would not negotiate with the agrarian groups if strikes were to occur, Caracol Radio reported.
The Agrarian Dignity (Dignidad Agraria), which is formed by a a number of farming groups including coffee, rice and potato growers, seek to address the promises they say the government has failed to deliver since the violent strikes last fall.
In a lead up to the planned demonstrations, small-scale Colombian miners announced in mid-April that they would join their agrarian counterparts with demands of their own.
The executive director for the Mining Strike (Paro Minero) in the state of Risaralda, Luz Estella Ramirez, told Colombia Reports on Monday morning that although the exact numbers of miners demonstrating in the country is still unknown their presence is country-wide.
“They are all over the country, but they are only mobilizing now,” she said and confirmed that both miners and agricultural demonstrators have converged in a number of states.
The miners are demanding that the government officially recognize a draft legislation which would give public authorities guidelines on how to treat small-scale miners, transparency in mineral exploitation and environmental guidelines to reduce the impact caused by mining exploitation.