Colombia´s coffee confrontation resolved with increased subsidies
It took an 11-day blockade of Colombia’s highways – including the near complete isolation of Popayán – but an agreement was reached late Thursday in a strike by tens of thousands of coffee producers.
The struggling coffee producers are going to receive higher subsidies after years of poor crops and low prices.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos resisted pressure from the extreme right to use the army and national police force to clear blockades, despite the punishment he took in public opinion polls in this the year before a national election.
Using the police and military to force an end to the some 20 blockades ¨would have caused a massacre,” the president said in an interview with national newspaper El Espectador when the agreement was finally imminent.
Colombian businesses and consumers were reeling from the effects of the blockades, especially in Popayán, the colonial capital city of Cauca.
Blockades on the Pan-American Highway were blamed for deaths of some patients who did not receive treatment. Food, gasoline and medicine were in short supply.
Still, the president appeared to receive little immediate credit for the deal. People were giving thanks to God and the Virgin on Twitter, while others were asking why it took the president so long to resolve the crisis.
Former president Álvaro Uribe kept the pressure on the current president (his former minister of defence) with harsh criticism on his own Twitter account.
Uribe blamed the suffering, particularly in Popayán, on the current president´s so-called weak response to “terrorism.”
The current president´s popularity has also taken a beating over his decision to attempt to negotiate an end to the 50-year conflict with the FARC, Colombia´s largest guerrilla army.
While he has received accolades internationally and talk of a possible Nobel Peace prize, in Colombia he is losing popularity as guerrilla attacks continue.
- Colombia Greets Coffee Strike with Force (hispanicbusiness.com)