Aug. 20 - Riot police fire tear gas at farmers in Colombia as they block roads to demand more help from the government after being hit by poor harvests and rising costs. Sunita Rappai reports.
A tense stand-off in Colombia between angry farmers and police after thousands stop work to demand better government subsidies. In the central city of Tunja, protesters blocked key highways and roads, causing traffic chaos. They're calling for more state assistance after being hit by years of poor weather, crop disease and a strong currency. Coffee growers have been particularly badly hit. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PROTESTING FARMER, LUIS ROJAS, SAYING: "We're 18 million farmers and we're determined to do anything - sustain starvation for three, four or five months but I will not starve forever." The government has already increased a subsidy for coffee growers but farm leaders say they'll continue protesting until buyers pay a minimum price for beans. With protests spreading around the country, President Juan Manuel Santos said authorities were ready to deal with any violence. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombia's largest guerrilla group, said it supported the protest, as it began a new round of peace talks with the government in Havana.