Colombia is in a state of unrest. Demonstrations began early last week in the cities of Bogota and Cali, in protest over a tax reform plan proposed by the government of President Ivan Duque. That plan has since been canceled, but the protests continue, with citizens now calling for the government to “tackle poverty, police violence and inequalities in the health and education systems,” per Reuters. At least 24 individuals—and likely many, many more—have died in clashes with the police and militarized “SWAT”-style officers, a response that has been condemned by Amnesty International.
Colombia is a nation synonymous with coffee—it’s the third largest coffee producing nation in the world, with more than 500,000 coffee farmers. As the protests have begun to spread nationwide, the demonstrations are putting a halt to commerce, resulting in significant early impacts on Colombia’s coffee industry.
As reported by Reuters, anti-government protestors are setting up road blockades around the country, which is disrupting coffee shipments. One blockage in particular, in Bonaventure, is preventing any goods from entering or leaving the major port. The National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia (Fedecafe) head Roberto Velez tells Reuters that the blockades are having a particularly significant effect on producers in the “Huila, Valle del Cauca, Cauca, and Nariño provinces who are in the midst of their main harvest.”
“We are stopped completely, exports are stopped, there is no movement of coffee to ports nor internally.”
There are no estimates for the total amount of coffee currently unable to be exported. Velez states that while there is still storage space available, continued halts in exporting should could change that in short order. Reuters notes that “coffee-growers, who are enjoying relatively high prices on the New York market of $1.48 per/lb., have not yet joined national strike efforts,” but the situation is fluid and developing, with a national strike on the horizon and no end to protests in sight.
This story is developing.