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Colombian farmers remove roadblocks to end nationwide strike

BOGOTA, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Farmers in southern Colombia had removed blockades they set up as part of a nationwide strike after reaching an agreement with the government, the UN High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCHR) said Tuesday.

Farm leaders agreed Saturday to end the three-week protest, which had turned violent, caused food shortages and put pressure on President Juan Manuel Santos just a few months before he must decide whether to seek a second term in office.

Farmers were demanding increased agricultural subsidies and other relief in the face of high fertilizer prices and free-trade agreements with the United States and Europe, which have made it hard to compete with cheap imports.

The farmers' strike resulted in several deaths and acts of vandalism in the capital, Bogota, after marchers there showed their support for the farmers, leading Santos to call in troops to restore order in the capital and along several highways.

Vice-President Angelino Garzon on Sunday signed an agreement with the indigenous farmers in the south and southwest of the country.

The UN said barricades had been removed in the provinces of Caqueta, Huila, Putumayo, Meta, Tolima, Cauca and Narino.

The strike was joined by truckers and independent miners, with whom the Santos administration has also reached an agreement.

"The United Nations in Colombia wants to take this opportunity to congratulate Vice-President Angelino Garzon, the governors who signed the agreement and the spokespeople of the MIA (a national group representing the farmers), for having reached this accord through dialogue," a UNHCHR statement said.

However, Colombia's unrest has not been completely solved, with thousands of teachers protesting before the Ministry of Education Tuesday.

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