From 16 to 18 October 2019, representatives of member states, intergovernmental organisations, and civil society attended the 6th Intersessional Meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. On 17 October 2019, representatives of coca and opium growers from Colombia and Myanmar delivered statements highlighting the situation of communities involved in the illicit cultivation of coca and opium in both countries. Below are their full statements.
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.
In a letter to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), a global network of 177 NGOs, expresses strong support for the Peace Accord signed by the Colombian government and the FARC, while also expressing deep concern regarding intensified, and increasingly militarized, forced coca eradication efforts, especially in areas where communities have already signed crop substitution agreements.
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.
Although there is talk of peace, there are no safeguards for the activities of the social organisations that are working to defend social rights and to oppose an economic model that is deepening inequality and that violates fundamental rights.
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.
As a result of continuing violence in Colombia and violation of human and labour rights, and the weakening of the Andean Community through individual EU trade agreements rather than bloc-to-bloc relations, the ETUC and TUCA call for legislators to oppose the EU-Colombia/Peru FTA. We reaffirm our joint statement in 2011 calling for a vote against the FTA on these grounds.
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.