A university students motions to throw back a teargas canister at riot police during a protest in support of a national strike in Bogota, Colombia, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013.
Violence continues to flare up across Colombia as authorities attempt to remove dozens of roadblocks set up by farmers and truckers, who are protesting the government's economic policies.
On Friday, agricultural workers for a fifth day blocked the country’s highways for a variety of demands that include reduced gasoline prices, increased subsidies and the suspension of free trade agreements.
Clashes between police and farm workers became violent this week, with demonstrators throwing rocks and explosives and setting fire to tires in roadways.
Police fired teargas to disperse the demonstrators.
The demonstrations began on Monday and are part of national strikes against President Juan Manuel Santos' agriculture and economic policies.
Protesters also say free trade agreements with Europe and the United States are making it difficult to compete with cheap imports.
The rallies have been largely concentrated outside the capital but have recently moved closer to the capital Bogota.
Colombia’s Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said on Thursday that the protest has been infiltrated by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who called the rallies a valid response to “neoliberal economic policies.”
“Everyone knows that the terrorist FARC end up infiltrating these kinds of protests and cause disorder,” Pinzon said.
Interior Minister Fernando Carrillo has urged the farmers to avoid violence in order to facilitate negotiations.
On Monday, more than 150,000 Colombian farm workers staged protest marches in rural areas.
Some 20 rallies and four major demonstrations were held and 11 roadblocks had been set up by the protesters, according to police.
Organizers of the protests demand President Juan Manuel Santos to set up a national dialogue to discuss land and other farm related issues, including subsidies to coffee farmers.
Santos promised higher subsidies in March, however, farmers said that it is not enough, as coffee growers have seen a 40 percent drop in international prices over the past year.
Santos had urged the workers for the past few weeks to call off the strike. On August 15, Santos voiced his frustration over the workers’ refusal to cancel, calling them “useful idiots” who were being manipulated by powerful political interests against him.