Buenaventura (Agenzia Fides) - "Buenaventura can no longer handle the events of the moment, it needs structural solutions to structural problems. No cotton to buffer the wound, we need to intervene", said Mgr. Héctor Epalza Quintero, P.S.S., Bishop of Buenaventura in an interview with "El Tiempo" newspaper after another interruption of dialogue between protesters and government regarding the general strike of port workers. On Friday, May 19, there were violent demonstrations, and the city and the port of Buenaventura were paralyzed.
The blockade of all the city's institutions to protest for lack of services by the central government began on Monday, May 15 in a peaceful but determined manner. The closed hospital and the insecurity of the population were the main points of the demonstrations that every day brought workers and citizens to the streets of the city until Friday 19, when unprecedented vandalism broke out. Police and army intervention were needed to restore calm after a large number of shops had been devastated and plundered. The mayor and the prefecture imposed curfew and the calm came back only the next day.
"The Bishops of the Pacific and the Archbishop of Cali, in a statement, reiterated their support and solidarity with the population of the entire Pacific coast of Quibdo and Buenaventura", said Mgr. Epalza in the same interview. When asked if he feels that dialogue can be continued, Archbishop Epalza replied: "It depends, if this time the government sends officials who are capable of deciding in the talks, then they will be able to continue".
The port of Buenaventura is crucial for the country's economy, only in five days of strike, the delivery of 11 million tons of goods across the country stopped. Not to mention the goods that have yet to be unloaded from the ships because there is no place in the harbor anymore. Entrepreneurs and shipping companies are also beginning to worry about the situation. (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 22/05/2017)