Cypriot potato farmers block airport for compensation, 2002

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Time Period:  
December 13,
December 21,
Location and Goals
Location City/State/Province: 
That the government of Cyprus compensate the potato farmers for their weather-damaged crop as the government had done previously

In Cyprus, farmers are often sustained by government subsidies during crop overproduction or blight. Since the mid-1990's, potato blight has become more and more common, leading to struggles between potato farmers and the government about the extent to which sustained subsidy should occur. A tradition of popular nonviolent struggle has emerged in response to this conflict with the government.

After sustained struggles with the government over compensation for crops destroyed by a potato blight, Cypriot farmers mounted a brief nonviolent campaign. On December 13, 2002, they held a rally outside of the House of Representatives, requesting 5.6 million pounds in compensatory aid. Many of the farmers live below the working class, and were requesting subsidies to feed their families. Much of the Cypriot public condemned the rally, but there wasn't a public response from the government.

Eight days later, on December 21, 2002, about 150 potato farmers occupied the main runway at the airport in Larnaca, in support of their demands. Approximately 300 police force members surrounded the farmers. For four hours, the farmers prevented any air traffic from entering or leaving the island, meaning that mostly tourists were stranded. The tourists became riotous, threatening the occupiers with assault. No violence was documented.

After about 4 hours, the Justice Minister Alecos Shambos, convinced the protesters to leave the runway, assuring them that the compensation would be decided before Christmas Day. The protesters left the runway of their own volition, and were fed a meal in the VIP lounge of the airport. The Cypriot government was meant to discuss the issue of the farmers' demands for compensation on January 8, 2003. It is unclear whether their demands were ever met by the government of Cyprus. The farmers continue to organize for compensation today.

Research Notes
"Potato Farmers Demand £5.6m Compensation." Cyprus Mail. HR-Net, 13 Dec 2002. Web. 14 Mar 2011.

"Cyprus Protest Ends in VIP Lounge." CNN World 22 Dec 2002. Web. 14 Mar 2011.

"Potato farmers play havoc with pre-Christmas flights to Cyprus." Agence France Presse. 21 Dec 2002. Accessed through LexisNexis, 15 Jun 2011.

Efty, Alex. "Potato farmers block Cyprus's main airport demanding payment for hail-damaged crops." Associated Press Worldstream. 21 Dec 2002. Accessed through LexisNexis, 15 Jun 2011.

Additional Notes: 
Campaign classified as "defense" because the government usually granted subsidies and compensations for damaged crops. It seemed that the compensation had been promised in this situation, but had not yet been fulfilled.

Edited by Max Rennebohm (15/06/2011)

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Hanna King, 14/03/2011