'Listen to us AMLO,' reads the sign on a farm vehicle at one of today's blockades. 'Listen to us AMLO,' reads the sign on a farm vehicle at one of today's blockades.

Farmers’ groups conduct nationwide blockades protesting lack of funding

One million farmers were predicted to turn out for nationwide protest

One million farmers were predicted to participate in nationwide blockades and protests Wednesday and Thursday to demand the delivery of agricultural sector funding and a meeting with President López Obrador.

Members of four farmers’ groups that together make up the Authentic Front of the Countryside (FAC) will take part in the protest action.

Álvaro López Ríos, leader of the National Union of Agricultural Workers, told the newspaper El Universal that blockades would be set up on major highways from 8:00am today in all 32 states.

He said the protest camp set up on July 22 in front of the National Palace in Mexico City will be “reinforced” and that farmers will demonstrate outside the Interior Secretariat, the federal Senate and the Mexican Stock Exchange.

Members of the four FAC organizations will also participate in a march Wednesday morning from the Angel of Independence on Reforma avenue to the Monument to the Revolution.

López predicted that one million farmers across the country will join the two-day demonstrations.

By 10:30am CDT today there were reports of snarled traffic in several locations around the country.

The aim of the protests is to “create spaces for dialogue” with the president in order to discuss the problems faced by farmers and agree on solutions, he said.

The union leader said that López Obrador has refused to meet with the farmers’ groups and completely cut off their funding, a move he described as a “mistake.”

“How unfortunate that a government that arose from fighting these problems of a lack of dialogue between government and society has assumed [the position] that it criticized,” López said.

He explained that farmers want greater transparency in the allocation of resources for the agricultural sector.

According to the Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (Sader), 90% of the 2019 budget for the sector has been used but the farmers’ groups disagree.

“Farmers haven’t seen that money, we don’t know where it is,” López said.

Francisco Chew, a member of the FAC and leader of a group called Social Movement for the Land, also said that many farmers haven’t received the government financial support they were promised.

“. . . They haven’t received the [stored value] cards and they haven’t been supported by [Sader’s] Production for Wellbeing Program . . .” he said.

Speaking at his morning press conference today, López Obrador said the farmers’ groups are upset because the government is allocating resources directly to producers rather than to them as occurred in the past.

“They don’t want to accept it and they think that with the protest, we’re going to back down. It’s a decision we’ve taken, all the support goes directly to the farmers, not to the organizations, not to intermediaries because we have proof that the money that the organizations received didn’t arrive. In other words, it didn’t get to the beneficiaries, it didn’t get to the farmers,” he said.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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