An email from a friend, end nov 1999:
For all of hose traveling from Ecuador overland into Colombia or vice versa.
120 south of Popayan and also 15 km north of Popayan there are 2 blockades on the Panamericana. Farmers and indians have blocked the road in protest against government actions since the first of November. Nothing is let through, only tourists like myself with own transportation might get through. Long lineups with trucks loaded with perishable cargo.... The situation is tense. I witnessed trucks with slashed tires and busses with smashed windows. Fuel is extremely hard to find in Popayan. In Pasto fuel shortage is rising.
When traveling with own vehicle make sure to be able to pass through without having to refuel.
Best advise I can give at this moment is to avoid the road, which is actually unavoidable when wanting to travel to or from Ecuador, there are no alternate routes.
Southern blockade was the biggest blockade but easiest to pass. In Popayan I met a couple from Germany on motorcycle who informed me that the northern blockade was easy for them to pass. As I arrived I had to wait 4 hours in the rain before I was let through. Knowledge of spanish will help. I have seen no firearms just everybody carried sticks.
Best to wait in Cali or Ecuador for the situation to pass which is expected to be any day now.