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February 27, 2013

Coffee farmers strike across Colombia

Solidarity online with coffee workers demanding government support against falling prices.
Hundreds of farmers and indigenous people participate in a demonstration in Bolombolo town, Antioquia department, Colombia, 25 February 2013. EPA/LUIS EDUARDO NORIEGA

An estimated 30,000 coffee growers are on strike in Colombia to demand increased government support for the struggling crop. There have been reports of clashes with police and use of tear gas to subdue the protesters.

The government announced Wednesday that it will negotiate with farmers only if they first stop blocking roads in protest. President Juan Manuel Santos initially called the strike "inconvenient, unnecessary [and] unfair" in a televised speech defending government support for the coffee industry. But farmers say the government's subsidies are not enough to compensate for falling prices and this year's poor harvest.

Last year saw the lowest coffee crop in decades. The country has grown to rely on foreign imports to meet demand at home.

Netizens tweeted photos and videos of the protests across the country: