In response to the protests led by farmers since last week in Colombia, the Colombian government has raised coffee subsidies it offers it’s farmers. However, farmers are saying this isn’t enough and are calling for a set minimum price on their coffee beans before they’ll relent. They have been blocking highways and roads since last Monday.
Head of the coffee growers federation, Luis Genaro Munoz, has stated “There is no reason to continue with the strike and blockages. This is a solution with a strong financial appeal.”
In an attempt to resolve matters, the government has offered to increase the subsidy for small farmers from 60,000 pesos to 115,000 pesos per 125-kg sack of parchment coffee for when the internal coffee price is lower than 650,000 pesos. For large land owners, the subsidy will be increased from 60,000 pesos to 95,000 pesos. Finance minister, Mauricio Cardenas, states I invite coffee growers from all over the country to lift the strike immediately. … The government is doing an enormous effort to provide this aid. I believe the strike will end.”
Leaders of the strike are unwilling to end the protests, however, until the minimum price is set at 650,000 pesos regardless of what the international coffee prices are set to. Ermison Sterling, a local coffee grower leading some of the strikes states “People are furious. We will continue blocking roads.”
Currently coffee growers are getting about 521,000 pesos per 125-kg back, even though production costs can cost between 650,000 and 700,000 pesos.
Truck drivers have also gone on strike, demanding lower fuel prices. This could cause further damage to coffee transportation within the country, and could potentially lead to food and fuel shortages in some of the larger cities. Pedro Aguilar, who is head of the Colombian Truckers Association, stated that 340,000 drivers will be joining the strike and added “The decision has already been made, there’s no way back.”
The largest coal mine in Colombia, Correjon, have also been on strike for over a month.