archivos de los protestos globales

Columbia Activist Says:

Date:   10/5/2002 10:50:55 AM Pacific Daylight Time

"There will be no solution to the problem of coca cultivation in Colombia as 
long as the current system of land ownership and tenancy exists, say 
Colombian coca farmers

04.02.2002 (Translation by Elizabeth Atherton/Colombia Peace Association) 
ANNCOL is pleased to provide our readers with an English translation of the 
following communique from the Colombian coca- and poppy farmers' union COCCA:

The fumigations in Colombia constitute a war against the Colombian campesino
population and an assault on the delicate environment of the Amazon (the
natural resources on which all humanity depends).

In the department of Putumayo, situated in the Colombian Amazon on the
border with Ecuador, the massive fumigations with glyphosate, financed and
imposed by the United States and carried out by its servant Colombian state,
have been continuing. In recent months they have indiscriminately fumigated
some 10,500 hectares of coca plantations and 33,000 hectares of legitimate
crops in the municipality of La Hormiga. 

The fumigations have affected 43,000 of the 78,000 hectares of fertile land 
in the municipality, also known as Valle de Guamuez, and have destroyed not 
only coca crops but also fields of yucca, plantain, citrus fruits, maize and 
cocoa, as well as natural woodland and sources of water in the department of 

This was the condemnation levelled by local officials and campesino leaders. 
The People's Representative in La Hormiga, Leandro Romo, confirmed that in 
the last two months planes had shed vast quantities of glyphosate (produced 
by the US multinational Monsanto) over licit and ilicit crops. 

He added that, as a result of the fumigations, some 7,000 campesinos and 
indigenous people, including women and children, are suffering with health 
problems, hunger and dangerously few resources. Some 3,500 of these
campesinos had to abandon their plots of land and head for other parts of 
Putumayo. This is a clear indication that the indiscriminate fumigations are 
being used by the Colombian state to forcibly and systematically displace 
huge numbers of campesinos.

Washington is providing 17 million dollars annually for the poisonous
spraying programme in Colombia, which is currently endowed with 15
fumigation planes and dozens of combat helicopters. In addition, the US is
providing more than 1,300 million dollars in economic and military aid to
finance Plan Colombia, with which it intends to reposition its geostrategic
interests in Colombia and Latin America under cover of its false claims to
be fighting a war on drugs.

In the year 2001, 84,000 hectares of coca crops were fumigated in Colombia,
58,000 in the year 2000. So far this year, 70,000 hectares have been
fumigated. However, the crops continue to increase (there are currently
200,000 hectares of coca plantations), because as well as being an excuse to
intervene militarily in Colombia, the fumigations are a strategic vicious
cycle to benefit the multinational producers of glyphosate, planes,
helicopters, weapons and private security (mercenary) firms (Dyncorp), all
from the United States.

President Andres Pastrana, who stepped down as president on 7 August 2002,
suspended spraying in Putumayo at the beginning of this year, because his
government and the campesinos signed agreements to manually eradicate the
crops as part of an alternative development programme. It was a programme
that was never entirely accomplished. Spokespersons of the current
government said that these agreements were not producing effective results,
without acknowledging that the state did not fulfil its part of the
agreements, and as a consequence Alvaro Uribe Velez, under pressure from the 
United States, decided to recommence the aerial fumigations.

Because of these fumigations, hundreds of campesinos have complained that
they are suffering from respiratory and other health problems, and that they
have been forced to abandon their tiny fields of cocoa, maize, plantain,
yucca and other legal crops. Meanwhile, the North American State Department 
and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have cynically stated that 
the glyphosate being used in Putumayo is not harmful to health, but that they
will make adjustments to the formulation so that its toxicity is
reduced from grade 3, equivalent to "gentle" to grade 4, "light", (grade 1
being the most toxic).

The fumigations and their impact on campesino social organisation, on human
health and on the environment are a crime against humanity committed by the
imperialist United States and their Colombian lackeys.

The solution to the problem of coca cultivation in Colombia needs a
political solution to the political, social and armed conflict. While the
current system of land ownership and tenancy exists, while fertile land is
used extensively for the livestock of the landowning elite, while the
expropriation and displacement of the campesino population continues, and
food go on being imported at an increasing rate (8 million tonnes annually),
and while there is no development model based on the redistribution of
wealth, there will be no solution to the problem.

We call on the international community to stop this barbary. We invite
international organisations to observe the violations of the economic,
social, environmental and cultural rights of the campesino population, so
that we can construct a common cause to defend life, dignity and the
environment of the Colombian Amazon.


Coordinator of the Cultivators of Coca and Poppy  COCCA
Colombia, 2 October 2002

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