Protest road blockades halt Colombian coffee exports, federation says

Anti-government demonstrations in Colombia, which entered their eighth day on Wednesday, have halted shipments of Colombia’s main agricultural export, coffee, according to the president of the growers’ federation.

The demonstrations, which began in response to a now-cancelled tax reform bill, are now demanding that the government take steps to address poverty, police brutality, and health and education disparities.

Twenty-four people have died, the majority of whom were protesters.

In a phone interview, federation head Roberto Velez said, “We are absolutely stopped, exports are stopped, there is no movement of coffee to ports or internally.”

Around the world, roadblockades have sprung up, some set up by truckers in support of national strike efforts and others staffed by demonstrators.

One major blockade is stopping goods from reaching or leaving Buenaventura, a major port on the Pacific coast.

The barricades are especially affecting growers in the provinces of Huila, Valle del Cauca, Cauca, and Narino, who are in the midst of their main harvest, according to Velez.

“We don’t know how much coffee is being halted, but we have gone four or five days without being able to export.” Velez said.

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