Colombia road closures

Discussion in 'Latin America' started by OK Lucinda, Aug 23, 2013.

  1. OK Lucinda

    OK Lucinda n00b

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    Back on the 28th we got through the Cuacasia road closures only with a little luck. Trees down, buring tires, firebombed trucks. Now we're stuck in Cali as the only route south to the border is closed due to protests, with no way around. The roadblocks start at Popayan. The best estimate I'm getting is ten days. However I'm going to make a dash for it early Sunday morning in the hope I'll catch them at their least motivated.

    (off topic a bit: there was a protest downtown Cali yesterday and I was interested to see one of the speakers was an angry British trade unionist lady probably flown in for the occasion, who spoke entirely in English without even a buenos dias, really, with her Brit cameramen filming her every move seated, speaking or pumping her fist walking around, without so much as a glance at the other speakers)

    I've done some reading this afternoon and it looks like riders through Colombia in the next while can expect minor setbacks. Here is a decent background story from the US:

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/19/3573362/colombias-summer-of-discontent.html

    Mike at Motolombia gave me the number of the Policia de Turismo who can provide updates - 6530202
    #1
  2. Two Moto Kiwis

    Two Moto Kiwis Homeless Somewhere

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    We are in Puerto Berrio and haven't had any issues yet, it seems to be more south of here, we are heading to Guatape tomorrow so will keep you posted, good luck at your end.
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  3. OK Lucinda

    OK Lucinda n00b

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    The road from Cali to Pasto was fine - actually a beautiful ride.

    I'm not sure how to guage the military presense yesterday. It was more intense during the Caucasia blockade. Soldiers along the roads frequently, small camps of 20 or less here and there, and two small towns pretty much occupied. The soldiers themselves varied from relaxed and chatty to focused (in the two villages). The ones I spoke to seemed to think the road would stay open, no more problems.

    However the road from here, Pasto, to the Equador border is officially closed, according to the police this morning. I always like a second opinion but didn't need one in this case as two Equadorian riders (on ADV?) have flown home, leaving their 1200GS and Ducati Multistrata behind at the B&B I'm staying at. No-one has an opinion on for how long. If I was in Cali right now I might keep calling the police for updates and stay there as Pasto, although nice, is a bit quiet.

    [​IMG]
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  4. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    There's more than one crossing into Ecuador you know, you just have to get off the PanAm and I bet that crossing is not closed:deal

    Besides the Trampolín de la Muerte road a little taste:
    [​IMG]
    is a fun road and you can stop for a nice soak in Sibundoy Valley along the way.
    #4
  5. OK Lucinda

    OK Lucinda n00b

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    Yup, been looking at the alternates.

    The Mocoa / Puerto Colon / Nueva Loja road looks fine and has a boat ride which is always nice. It's raining here in the mountains and I'm wondering if the 100K of dirt to the river is going to be 100K of mud. Any guesses? Secondly, they're fighting to within 1K of the town today - was out there with a large pack of curious local motos. We were all over the place, one minute brave and advancing, the next minute running like rabbits, just 50 or 100 feet at a time either way. Interesting experience. Got some video to post of the brotherhood (!) if I can figure out how.

    This is getting dangerously close to sounding like drama so time to stop with the commentary maybe.
    #5
  6. Two Moto Kiwis

    Two Moto Kiwis Homeless Somewhere

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    Great info that is, perfect solution being a fun ride and escape the difficulties, I tried gooooooogling it but didn't come up with it, any chance of some more info on how to find it?

    Today we rode from Puerto Berrio to Guatape, we checked with the feds first and all stations were go to a clean clear ride.

    Due to a navigational error and me in my era we found a back road that provided difficulties, mud, water waterfall, dust and just a bloody good ride :rofl

    Cheers Andi
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  7. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

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  8. Two Moto Kiwis

    Two Moto Kiwis Homeless Somewhere

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  9. OK Lucinda

    OK Lucinda n00b

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    Thanks Tradey for the detail.
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  10. OK Lucinda

    OK Lucinda n00b

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    As you've maybe heard, all Pasto roads, and others in three districts, are closed. Santos will be negotiating, apparently determined to achieve some interim compromise, at 1:00 this afternoon. Some roads are expected to be open again within a few days - we'll see how that goes. The protests downtown last night were impressive and hostile.
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  11. OK Lucinda

    OK Lucinda n00b

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    It was chaos here last night. Pasto appears to be the most serious hot spot. There's a young couple here from the US on a 800GS that came in the same day I did. It appears we were the last of the traffic of any sort to make it in to Pasto. Last night we were in the wrong place at the wrong time as things once again went very bad around us. We had to do a lot of fast moving and hiding to get the hell out, as were the locals around us, as the army and protestors did battle all around us. A big bomb went off just a block away at one point. You wouldn't belive how fast soldiers on moto's can move and fire tear gas on the fly - impressive riding. Our first experience with tear gas. Non-army/police Moto's are banned from the streets.

    Needless to say the roads remain closed.
    #11
  12. GSABest

    GSABest El Adventurero

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    Stay safe! My wife and I expect to be in Colombia in December on our South America trip on our 2008 GSA. I hope these protests die down or my wife will be seriously freaked out . Not to mention that the roads are closed!! Not sure it was mentioned but what are they protesting about?
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  13. GSABest

    GSABest El Adventurero

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    Just read the posted link. Tx!
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  14. Two Moto Kiwis

    Two Moto Kiwis Homeless Somewhere

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    Sounds like you are putting yourselves in unnecessary danger there knowing what is going on, not to rain on your parade but if it is that bad then maybe you should reconsider standing on the front line and stay back a bit.
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  15. OK Lucinda

    OK Lucinda n00b

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    The situation has changed since that piece.

    It's now largely an agricultural issue. The other issues, although they are significant and still on the table, have taken a second place to the most visible. It appears that due to government policy for years (free trade etc) the farmers have been squeezed hard to the point that they can't make money on many crops. There seems to be consensus that they have a strong point. No-one seems to disagree that they can't compete with American imports.

    The problem is that everyone else with an axe to grind, including natural agitators and FARC, have infiltrated the protests and are using them to create war-like conditions.

    Not much in the local press, which amazes us, because (I read last night) that journalists are being targeted.

    Another point of interest to riders: at one point as we were trying to make our way out of the worst of it, the three of us were loudly identified as gringos. If it had been five minutes earlier, before we were on the move, this would have been a much bigger problem. We're going to keep a lower profile from here on, but we'll see how it goes. We're naturally curious, but not stupidly so. Last night was a surprise to everyone.

    The big issue of course is how long this is going to last. None of us have an urgent need to get moving although I'm sure if it's too much longer we're going to get a bit crazy.

    This is how it all began, only five minutes before it went out of control:

    [​IMG]
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  16. OK Lucinda

    OK Lucinda n00b

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    We thought we had asked the right questions. Santos had spoken at 1:00 and things during the early afternoon were quiet. The main square, where the problems started the night before was quiet. We asked a local police if there were going to be more problems - he said he didn't think so.

    We heard some loud chanting a couple of blocks back from the square. We discussed whether to go and check it out. Based on the policeman's info we decided to check it out. OK, maybe not the best move, and we won't repeat it. When we arrived, no question the atmosphere was supercharged. We stayed on edge, very ready to move, specially since we were the only gringos.

    What took us by surprise was that it exploded instantly. The locals were as shocked as we were.

    Out of interest there was a moment when the situation was very sketchy. As the various exposions were going off, and people were scattering and hiding, the army was closing down the intersections all around us to contain it. (Once again, a lasting memory will be how fast the army moved - they were moving on moto's and trucks at very high speed). We had an opportunity at one intersection and took it. At no point did we panic or run. The second bad moment was when there was a huge exposion in an underground parking lot immediately in front of us. It was a problem moment because we were unable to move forwards or backwards. About three minutes later we took a chance, we didn't have much choice, and moved by it fast as the next intersection looked clear. The air was full of tear gas at this point, although we were blocks away from the worst of it by this time.

    There's a ton more going on but that much gives a flavour of it.

    Obviously we're not to going to repeat our error.
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  17. GSABest

    GSABest El Adventurero

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    Thanks for the additional info... Sounds like laying low, very low, until this thing blows over or settles down substantially would be prudent. Even more so if there are anti-gringo sentiments. Once again... Stay safe!!
    #17
  18. TeeVee

    TeeVee His mudda was a mudda!

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    so here's the part i can't understand: colombian FARMERS cannot compete with american imports? i'm curious, besides maybe wheat, which doesn't grow really well in the tropics, and corn what agricultural products are being imported into colombia from the US at such rock bottom prices the colombian farmers can't compete?

    not trying to beat the american nationalist drum here, but it sounds to me like they just don't like the free market/free trade agreement which allows colombians to CHOOSE where they buy their products from.

    anyway, hope it blows over soon and no one gets hurt.
    #18
  19. OK Lucinda

    OK Lucinda n00b

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    Last night was quiet. The bars and restaurants were open.
    Still no motos allowed on the street today here in Pasto. Not sure what's happening elsewhere with motos - I see from other threads that ADV'ers are still riding around up north.
    A big daytime protest scheduled.
    #19
  20. Two Moto Kiwis

    Two Moto Kiwis Homeless Somewhere

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    We are now stuck in Guatape because of road closures from the truck blockades/strikes so will be here another night, no violence here whatsoever just road blocks.
    #20