Colombian farmers started a 60-kilometers walk, on Monday, to the offices of Governor Dumek Turbay of the Bolivar Department, to demand basic living conditions are met through public policy.
“We have decided to walk to demand those rights which historically have been denied to us by public authorities and governments,” Hernando Gonzalez, a spokesman for Comite de Desarrollo Campesino, from Santo Domingo, said.
“Demonstrate that the inhabitants of Monte de Maria want to remain in the territory but under a dignified livelihood, with access roads to transport our agricultural products which is the root of our existence as a black community and as farmers,” a social leader from Maria la Baja in the Bolivar Department stated as his motive for joining the protest.
The farmer’s caravan is requesting that the state fulfill its obligations regarding the provision of health, education, potable water and electricity as well as restore highways and roads to suitable conditions.
The failure to provide the basic social services, according to the demonstrators, is attributed to the absence or inactivity of the state in small towns and municipalities across Colombia, especially Maria la Baja, El Carmen and San Jacinto in the Bolivar Department.
Colombian protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets during 2018. At the beginning of October, farmers from Cucuta and el Zulia demonstrated to gain inclusion in the government’s National Comprehensive Program for the Replacement of Illicit Use Crops.
Farmers have been particularly hard hit by the armed conflict which has devastated the social fabric of the Colombian society. Among their demands are, respect for basic human rights, such as the right to water, education and health; increased state presence in non-urban areas; and increased public support for the substitution of crops, from illicit to legal production opportunities.