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LatinNews Regional Monitor: Andean Group - 08 April 2019

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In brief: Colombia

* Colombia’s President Iván Duque has announced an economic strategy to help those affected by the protests that have been taking place since 12 March in the southwestern department of Cauca. The president announced over his twitter page that new lines of credit will be opened by two banks, designed to help businesses and traders reduce the short-term impact of the protests. The state-owned Banco Agrario has opened a credit line of Col$150bn (US$48m) that will make loans available to businesses with subsidised rates. Similarly, the Colombian exterior commerce bank (Bancóldex) will open a line of Col$125bn with loans being provided with a ‘guarantee system’ when it comes to interest rates and repayment deadlines. In addition, any imminent deadlines for paying income and supplementary taxes have been extended to 30 December 2019. The protests are being conducted by indigenous communities in the Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca (Cric), who are demanding that unfulfilled promises made by the previous government led by Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018) be honoured. Blockades erected on the Pan-American highway connecting Colombia to Ecuador are creating losses in the freight transport sector and producing shortages of basic goods in some of the country’s southern departments.