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.
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.
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 forced crop eradication policy implemented by the Peruvian government over the past 25 years has failed. The official strategy has exacerbated social conflicts; contributed to various types of subversive violence; jeopardized local economies, also affecting the national economy; and destroyed forests as crops have become more scattered. Worst of all, it has not resolved any of the underlying causes of drug trafficking, such as poverty, marginalisation and government neglect.
In November 2004 an unknown mystery plane sprayed opium poppy fields in eastern Afghanistan. Although the US denied any involvement, the US State Department is pressing for aggressive aerial eradiction campaigns to counter the booming opium economy. Due to policy controversies the State Department had to back off. At least for the time being.
Aerial fumigations with herbicides of drug crops in Colombia set in motion a vicious circle of human, social and environmental destruction. A worldwide campaign calls for the end of these harmful and inefficient forced eradication practices.