As Popular Uprisings continue across Colombia, they have been met with brutal repression from an alliance of neoliberal, right-wing and extreme-right forces. Who are the people involved? How did we get here? And what's the way out?
According to UNODC figures as of December 31, 2019, 154,000 ha of coca were detected in Colombia, which means a reduction of 15,000 ha, that is, 9% less compared to the 169,000 ha detected in 2018. President Duque’s government set a goal of eradicating 130,000 hectares of coca leaf crops during 2020, 62.5 percent more than 2019, when the goal was set at 80,000 ha.
At the end of 2019 the government of Iván Duque presented a draft decree to resume the spraying of drug crops used for illicit purposes. It argued that spraying is the only instrument to curb the increase in coca crops.
On 17 June, the second round of presidential elections for the 2018-2022 period will be held in Colombia. After the first round, the candidates still in the race are Gustavo Petro, representing Colombia Humana, a coalition of democratic and progressive forces, and Iván Duque for the Centro Democrático, an extreme right-wing party led by former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez.
Getting to the Briceño region in the heart of Antioquia requires an excellent vehicle, and a lot of time and luck. The week before our journey there in mid-July, heavy rains wiped out part of the road between Briceño and Pueblo Nuevo, stranding folks on one side or the other. We were lucky on the day of our journey – no rain. But it took a six-hour drive to get from Medellín to Briceño, and another three hours of sometimes harrowing curves to Pueblo Nuevo. The dirt-road drive itself was a stark reminder of the challenges Colombia faces as it seeks to eliminate 50,000 hectares of coca this year through the crop substitution program, Programa Nacional Integral de Sustitución de Cultivos de Uso Ilícito (National Comprehensive Program for the Substitution of Illicit Crops), known by the acronym PNIS.
The outcome of the October 2nd plebiscite in Colombia was a surprise for the international community and different democratic sectors in the country. It was an invitation to the Colombian population to endorse the Agreements reached between Juan Manuel Santos’ Government and the left wing guerrilla group, the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC). The outcome was a surprise even among the conservative sectors and those that had opposed the Agreements, who did not expect a majority of a NO vote. The Agreements aimed to end the armed conflict with the guerrilla group which has lasted for more than 50 years.
The current development model in place across Colombia has brought repression and harassment. The government has not fulfilled the terms of a 2013 agreement. On May 27th, the Cumbre Agraria, Campesina, Etnica y Popular1 called for a national Minga - a period of strikes and mobilizations - across Colombia to put pressure on the government.
It is unfortunate that 35 years after the first chemical spraying in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, we are still writing about aerial sprayings in Colombia, demanding the current government to definitely defer an ecocide and incompetent policy.
It is unfortunate that 35 years after the first chemical spraying in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, we are still writing about aerial sprayings in Colombia, demanding the current government – how many governments have not happened since! – to definitely defer an ecocide and incompetent policy. Throughout these years we have seen increasing national and international voices opposing the spraying of coca with the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate).
By ratifying the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia, the European Parliament committed itself to give a special follow-up to the “respect of human rights and the environment” by implementing the “road map” agreed upon for these issues.
Call on your MEP to oppose EU's proposed Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Peru and Central America because they will undermine human rights, increase unemployment and put corporate profits above human needs.
The EU's proposed free trade agreement with Colombia will worsen the already serious human rights violations in the country, as its drive to access to cheap raw materials for European corporations means forcing local people off their land.
Colombia's Supreme Court ruled against harsh punishments for small-time drug offenders, in a move towards easing up Colombia's zero-tolerance drug laws, which have achieved little in the fight against organized crime.