Marchers support striking Colombian coffee producers, despite shortages of food, gasoline, medicine

There are scarcities of food, gasoline and medicine in Popayán, but no shortage of demonstrations of support for tens of thousands of striking coffee producers.

Thousands of supporters – especially professors, students and natives – marched in support of coffee producers blockading Colombian highways on Tuesday. The marchers dwarfed a similar protest on Monday which favoured government intervention to end the 10-day-old confrontation that has paralyzed transportation with blockades of about 20 Colombian highways.


Protesters marched peacefully through the streets of this 476-year old city on Tuesday, but angered many onlookers when masked protesters painted the white walls with graffiti. The police that have flooded into this Andean city to maintain order in the coffee confrontation rushed to protect banks when protesters moved into a financial district.

Some banks prepared for the protest by boarding up windows and locking their doors.

And some stores, restaurants and supermarkets were either closed, or had only bare shelves where meat, dairy products and fruits and vegetables are usually displayed.


The black market that has seen wildly inflated prices for gasoline now includes food items.

Prices of vegetables have increased between 50 and 300 per cent, according to a survey by one newspaper. The price of potatoes, for example, has doubled in some locations.

Some restaurants have managed to stay open, but have limited menus.


The jobs of thousands of workers are in jeopardy at a poultry plant that has already seen the death of more than 30,000 chickens, because of a lack of feed. Another 150,000 chickens are said to be at risk, while residents are suffering from a lack of food.

Popayán already has an unemployment rate of more than 16 per cent, the second highest in Colombia.

A possibility of peaceful solution still is being sought. President Juan Manuel Santos has agreed today to attempt once again to negotiate with producers. And Vice-president Angelino Garzón has been appointed a mediator.

Shortages now are exacerbated by transportation companies striking against the rising price of gasoline.


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About Connecting Colombias

Recently retired newspaper reporter with one foot in British Columbia, Canada, the other in Colombia, South America. Fascinated with Colombian culture, Canadian connections, and heroic efforts to return millions of displaced Colombians to lands stolen by paramilitaries, guerrillas and organized crime.

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