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The national strike in Colombia, called by the country’s agriculture and cattle producers in fifteen departments, marked its fifth consecutive day with a growing turnout of students, teachers, small-scale miners and transport workers. It has been announced that the oil workers would join next week.
It is estimated that nearly 200,000 people are participating in the strike. Nearly 50,000 trucks were paralyzed in 27 departments of Colombia and over 30 roads were blocked. Many people have been detained and 50 were injured by the police.
The organizers said the strike would continue as long as the government keeps refusing to call negotiations to discuss a six-term document agreed by the strikers, Eberto Diaz of FENSUAGRO (Via Campesina) told Real World Radio.
Diaz said there is great speculation with food prices as a result of the strike.
The six points of the strikers’ demands include urgent policies for the country’s agrarian sector in terms of supplies, credit, reduction of tolls, policies aimed at peasant, indigenous and black communities, access to land for nearly a million peasant families, said Eberto Diaz when the strikers were holding a meeting to assess the measure after entering the fifth day of strike.
At least seven sectors linked with agriculture are taking part in the national strike that began on Monday. Transport workers, teachers and mining workers joined. Coffee, cocoa, cotton, potato, rice, corn and dairy producers also joined the protest.
Eberto Díaz said the strike goes beyond the rural sector because of the scope of the neoliberal model, which has damaged many sectors of the population by affecting their most basic services.
October will mark the first anniversary of the entering into effect of the Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and the US, which has had severe impacts on food producers.
The crisis in the health, education, public services and energy sectors affect both rural and urban communities. They make up a strong union force.
“When we decided to call a strike we knew of its proportions because of the situation of the people in the countryside. People were about to take to the streets, we were waiting for the right moment. We think it is time that the voice of the excluded is heard, of those who are against the countryside becoming a great supplier of agrofuels and mining”, concluded Diaz.
A two-and-a-half year process of work which resulted in a meeting with several thousand Brazilian peasants; “a process that didn´t start now, and that won´t end here”, said Itelvina Massioli, national leader of the peoples´ struggle for land, agrarian reform and food sovereignty, in interview with Real World Radio after the 6th Congress of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).
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