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.
For 37 years Colombia has been spraying chemicals to combat illicit crops, particularly coca. These massive eradication programmes became part of the US-backed 'War on Drugs'. The fumigations are controversial for their proven inefficacy to reduce supply and demand for the use of herbicides such as glyphosate.
Despite efforts by governments in Latin America, illicit drugs continue to provide one of the largest incomes for criminal organizations, enabling them to penetrate and corrupt political and social institutions.
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.
Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala face the need to modify their approach to the fight against drug trafficking and are urging the world to do the same. But Mexico and Colombia’s willingness to make the necessary changes is unclear.
Remarkable drug policy developments are taking place in Latin America. This is not only at the level of political debate, but is also reflected in actual legislative changes in a number of countries. All in all there is an undeniable regional trend of moving away from the ‘war on drugs’. This briefing explains the background to the opening of the drug policy debate in the region, summarises the most relevant aspects of the ongoing drug law reforms in some countries, and makes a series of recommendations that could help to move the debate forward in a productive manner.
Fifty years after signing the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and 40 years after the U.S. government declared a "war on drugs," many obstacles remain despite the partial successes of efforts to counter the problem. The Andean-United States Dialogue Forum, noted with concern how drug policy has monopolized the diplomatic and economic agenda between the Andean countries, contributing to tensions among the governments and impeding cooperation on other crucial priorities, such as safeguarding democratic processes from criminal networks.
The following document analyses how the Forest Warden Families Programme and the Productive Projects of the Presidential Programme Against Illegal Crops in Colombia have been used to legalise paramilitary structures and implement mega agro-industrial projects in the Uraba Region.
Under the guise of the war on drugs and terror, the way is being cleared for major economic interests in the Lower Putumayo (Colombia). This paper examines the impact of coca cultivation, petroleum activity and the armed conflict on the ancestral territory of the Cofán community.
Despite 2006 witnessing the most intensive use of fumigation in the country’s history, some 157,200 hectares of cultivation areas were detected, 13,200 hectares more than in 2005. Is the fumigation strategy failing?
Re-establishing fumigation is not going to legitimise or win acceptance of the State's activities in the territory of the Park. It is not going to protect the Park from the environmental deterioration generated by the critical interventions of social and military actors in the war. It is also not going to really affect the FARC's "bankroll". What it will do is create well-fertilised territory for the prolonging of the armed conflict.
In this briefing the Transnational Institute explains why the Colombian government has been unwilling to give ground on this minimal demand, which the Ecuadorians have been making since 2001, shortly after the aerial spraying began as part of Plan Colombia.
The consequence of associating the 'war on drugs' with the 'war on terrorism' is that the failure of the former could end with the failure of the latter. The predominant military approach to 'narcoterrorism' fails to recognise the complex factors underlying both the drug problem and the violence; it assumes that the drug problem can be solved by force and that the armed conflict can be resolved by intensifying the conflict - that is, more war on war; and it has facilitated the consolidation of conventional drug-trafficking structures.