5,000 Peasants March Against Armed Conflict in Southern Colombia
5,000 peasants marched in protest of the FARC’s use of landmines and government abuses in Colombia’s southern Putumayo department. reported local media Friday.
Organizers said the general goal of the march was to seek a solution to the armed conflict that has plagued the department since the 1960s.
The protesters demanded the attention of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon in order to find a solution to the department’s ongoing violence.
“We are tired of being the forgotten corner of the country for the government. It is time Colombia knows what we are living through. Every day the war gets worse and the only parts of the state we see are the Armed Forces,” said one of the marchers.
Wilmar Madroñero, a peasant leader, said FARC landmines left 30 victims so far this year. He also criticized the government’s policy of fumigating farmers’ crops and the Colombian Air Force’s bombardments of rural villages in the department.
The protesters said the poison used to kill coca plants also killed legal crops, leaving the inhabitants with little or no means to make a living.
Increased mining activity was also a concern for the marchers.
“We are worried about mining concessions. For the government of Putumayo, this is a mining district. We cannot own the land here and it no longer belongs to the peasants or the indigenous,” said Marco Rivadeneira, another peasant leader