At the start of the 21st century, the remote town of Barbacoas, in southern Colombia, was connected to the rest of the region by only one roadway. This 57 km highway between Barbacoas and the nearest town, Junin, was in major disrepair and could take between 14 and 24 hours to travel. Due to political instability, guerilla warfare by the FARC and other nongovernmental paramilitary groups, and the remoteness of the region, the government failed to maintain the condition of the highway and let it fall into disrepair.
The United States proposed the enactment of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Colombia in 2004. The United States said that, by lowering the tariffs in a few markets and by making the majority of the other markets entirely duty-free, it could become more competitive. While the Colombian Government responded positively to such a contract, significant groups declared their opposition.
In January 1997, the Colombian government under President Ernesto Samper declared a state of economic crisis. They planned to cut spending, increase taxes, and reduce wage increases in order to reduce the budget deficit, which had reached $4.4 billion in 1996. They developed additional plans to privatize industry, including selling state-owned mining and electrical companies. President Samper had previously supported social welfare programs and labor unions but said that the austerity measures were necessary because there was simply no money available.
The Colombian military and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas have been at war since 1964. Colombian citizens, especially indigenous, are often caught in the crossfire between the two armies. Both the government and FARC have forced children to fight for them.
In 2012, Colombian coffee prices fell 35% on the international market while the Colombian peso appreciated 10%. A combination of crop disease, bad weather, and unfavorable currency rates forced growers in Colombia to sell their coffee at a loss. Many coffee growers then found themselves spending more on fertilizers and supplies than what they were making for their coffee.
Colombian women use sex strike to pressure government to repair road (Huelga de piernas cruzadas), 2011
Barbacoas is an agricultural town in Narino, Colombia. It is a small port town in southwest Colombia that linked the southern regions of the country in the 19th and 20th centuries. However, the provincial routes used in those times have not been renovated since. Its economy now relies primarily on fishing, agriculture, and mining.
The U’wa people have practiced their traditional culture in the Northeast forests of the Colombian Andes since time immemorial. At the end of the 20th century, there were up to 5,000 people in U’wa communities.
The strikes and demonstrations that deposed President Gustavo Rojas Pinilla of Colombia were planned somewhat day to day and began as reactionary actions in response to Rojas’s attempts to hold power indefinitely. The opposition to Rojas had a wide base, across social classes and political party lines, and varied spokesmen, from students to political leaders to the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. This was a result of the growing discontentment with the direction of the Rojas regime.