Chronicling community action, revolutionary and revealing thought

Friday, August 06, 2004

War on Drugs...?

Television footage shows planes flying and spraying coca crops (base ingredient for cocaine smuggled into the US), but what it doesn't show is when they fly over food crops like corn, and spray them, in addition to residential areas- and residents. Columbia central North central region, like the Southern, Northern and coastal Columbia, has been sprayed with the Monsanto-produced herbicide Glyphosate on three separate occasions. According to locals, the fumigations have caused miscarriages and severe skin ailments. The US-sponsored spraying has killed food crops, poisoned fresh water sources and left many without work.

Duster crop planes flew over communities an hour away as people converged for a meeting to discuss the situation on July 30th, indisriminately dousing another dose of Glyphosate the over their land. Thousands of subsistence farmers in the countryside were forced to abandon their lands after the damage caused by the fumigations. Many then struggle to survive below the poverty line within Columbian towns and cities. During the year 2003, the International Organization of Migration did a study and found that some 7,000 people were forced to abandon their lands because of their fumigations. Ecuadorians who live near the borders also have suffered damage to their health and lands also, even there is no coca there.

Six thousand complaints have been lodged by Columbia's Human Rights Ombudsman; over 8,000 requests have been registered with the US embassy in Columbia for indemnization for damage to food crops, animals and human lives; but neither the US nor Columbia recognise that aerial spraying damages life. On paper Plan Columbia'set up to repay victims who's suffered losses due to fumigation; of the 8,000 plus six alone have been indemized in the past 4 years.

On August 3rd at the hotel press conference, John Walters said "in most of the investigations" which he said were followed aggressively, the causes were people using herbicides, insecticides or fertilizers wrongly or too much, or due to diseases peculiar to "poor people working in jungle areas".

Oh, nice. So, basically it's not us, they're too stupid or too backward or to...?

Interesting. The American Medical Association released a statement that said fumigations have caused widespread illnesses, destroying pastures, food crops, poisoning livestock and displacing thousands of small farmers. They request the immediate cessation of aerial herbicide spraying in Columbia and the neighbouring countries until the health effects, and the local populations, have been properly studied.

Despite the fact neither the US or Columbian governments have ever conducted a proper scientific study to the effect of the herbicide Glyphosate, they continue to insist on using the aerial spraying to eradicate the coca.

And the effect to people growing coca?

Many continue cultivating, or they move to new regions to plant. In the past 4 years since Plan Columbia's been in effect, US analysts found no effect in the US drug trade has been the result. There's been no change, despite $3 billion given to police and military aid to spray in Columbia.

The peasant farming crisis is increasing.

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