Aug. 25 - Police use tear gas in a bid to disperse protests by farmers and truckers who have blocked roads across Colombia. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
Colombian riot police used tear gas on Saturday (August 24) in a bid to disperse protests by farmers and truckers who have blocked roads across the country. The protests by thousands of Colombian farmers and truckers have become increasing violent with Colombia's Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon saying the movement has been infiltrated by Marxist FARC rebels. Clashes between police and agricultural workers became violent on Saturday and earlier this week as authorities sought to remove dozens of roadblocks that have snarled travel on Colombia's highways and prevented produce getting to market. Rocks and explosives were thrown as police launched tear gas to clear protesters. Much of the violence took place in central Boyaca province, a key farming area, as well as southwestern Cauca, and has been edging close to the capital, Bogota. Potato, corn and milk producers complain that free trade agreements with Europe and the United States have made it difficult to compete with cheap imports. Some coffee growers have joined the protests, seeking more effort by the government to weaken the currency. They also want help to pay for fertilizers and other farming chemicals.