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Thousands of farmworkers protest in Colombia

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Thousands of farmworkers joined protest marches in rural areas of Colombia Monday to demand government subsidies and greater access to land, authorities and organizers said.

Two people were arrested when they tried to disrupt traffic on a bridge in central Colombia, National Police chief Rodolfo Palomino said.

Police dispatched 13 aircraft to monitor the marches and deployed 56 tow trucks to ensure that roads remain open.

A protest organizer, Eberto Diaz, said between 150,000 and 200,000 farmworkers were taking part in protests nationwide.

"Truckers and miners are also going to join. Certainly tomorrow more people will be joining," he said.

Organizers say they want President Juan Manuel Santos to set up a national dialogue to discuss land and other issues affecting farmworkers.

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.

Interior Minister Fernando Carillo called on the protesters to keep the demonstrations peaceful.

"Infiltration by the violent ones has to be avoided. We will not accept anarchy," he said.

Analyst Luis Eduardo Celis said the guerrillas historically have supported such protests.

"But it can't be said that they order the farmworkers to go into the streets. At bottom there is social unrest and this is an issue society will have to resolve," he said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130819/thousands-farmworkers-protest-colombia