By * María Mercedes Moreno
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and various international environmental conventions appeal to respect for life and the environment. For 25 years, concerned citizens have raised the alert about the risks of fumigations.
The first Green Revolution of the 1970s brought pesticides with it and replaced the traditional agricultural practices of millions of peasants. After 30 years of intensive use, there are numerous, varied and exhaustive studies that show that the use of pesticides generates imbalances in health, in water sources and soils. In countries with democratic stability, the indiscriminate use of pesticides, given the existing scientific knowledge, is an attack against public health and is less and less frequent. In conditions of declared war - as is the goal set to kill coca to end? Terrorism? - aerial spraying with chemical mixtures of the lands on which millions of peasants live and from which we Colombians live, is an act of war against the civilian population.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and various international environmental conventions appeal to respect for life and the environment. For 25 years, concerned citizens have raised the alert about the risks of fumigations. In Colombia, aerial spraying with chemicals began with Paraquat in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta against marijuana plantations in 1978 and, as planned, the crops were moved. Among others, to the United States, where the aerial spraying of chemicals to kill marijuana was quickly abandoned. However, it is this same country that supports with its funds and logistics - above all humanitarian considerations - this chemical measure for 25 years in Colombia.
The outlook is more than heartbreaking and Uribe ignores the law when, without the slightest dignity, he disregarded in 2003 the ruling of the Cundinamarca Court to temporarily suspend spraying pending scientific studies and compliance with the Environmental Management Plan. Rather, it has proceeded to dismantle all the environmental institutions of the State, which could advise it. Fifteen months after the government's appeal, the State Council gives free rein to the fumigations. Ignoring scientific warnings and the cautious suspension of the use of pesticides in other countries, the State Council argues that there is no conclusive evidence that can demonstrate irreversible damage to the ecosystem and human health, and endorses this war measure in Colombia.
Meanwhile, those who fumigate, are imposing Genetically Modified Organisms -OGM (already with pesticides such as glyphosate incorporated). These herald - by way of compulsory purchase of modified seeds and agrochemicals - a complete end to traditional agriculture and immense biodiversity without yet having a complete picture of our wealth. If the spraying continues, possibly only glyphosate-resistant GMOs will grow, the seeds of which we will buy from Monsanto, from whom we also buy glyphosate and we will probably give up the waters. The growers will be forced to buy the transgenic seeds every two years since these are not incorporated in the plants.
Now that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is being discussed, will the protection of the intellectual property of the owners of the traditional Knowledge of plants be included? That is, of the Knowledge and plants that remain after the fumigations. The environmental and agricultural vocation of the time seems to be a project of territory divided between extensive cattle ranching, the monoculture of coca and a few other transgenic crops such as BT cotton. Cattle are likely to gradually degenerate genetically if they do not die from contaminated grass, but coca does not. Coca is the best survivor of intense spraying, as the sprayed areas attest.
After desisting at the end of March 2004 from fumigating the 5,000 hectares of crops for illegal use in the National Natural Parks (a system of almost 10 million hectares), today the State again fumigated the territory in the Sierra and its people just 3 months ago (August 2004) and the enormous ravages of this new round of chemical assault are already obvious. The State threatens to spray more chemicals on the Sierra, a land of biodiversity where 31 large rivers converge, the Tayrona National Natural Park and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Natural Park. Territory declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, this park, together with La Macarena and La Paya (fumigated ‘collaterally’ in September 2004), reserve an incalculable natural wealth for the present and future construction of the Colombian nation.
Curiously, it is there in these three areas that Camilo Uribe says that he had seen Super Coca. Camilo Uribe is the author of the document contracted by the US State Department on the non-effects of spraying on health and has recently been appointed director of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). Camilo Uibe claims to have no evidence of such Super Coca, however he also states that its cocaine potency is 97% (the rate of an original coca plant -without liters of glyphosate- is 24%).
Curiously also, the Vice Minister of the Environment of the Uribe Administration speaks of an environmental swap for debt. One would first have to think about how many more liters of pesticides they plan to bombard the waters and forests that they are offering to the International Community. Think about what crazy fungus they have envisioned injecting into the natural reserves that are the object of the environmental exchange. The Uribe Administration alleges that 87% of pesticides are used in traditional agriculture. The fact is, while this is not healthy either, glyphosate in traditional agriculture is generally not mixed with other chemicals and is sprayed from high altitudes several times over the same field / nature reserve and sometimes preceded by measures of war. .
The children of Colombia who are born and raised under this chemical rain will surely suffer the consequences forever. Fumigation displaces peasants from their homes and people displaced by the fumigations are left without recourse because, if the government recognizes that fumigation is a cause of displacement, it would also have to recognize that it is applying (chemical) warfare measures against their residents. people. Likewise, by fumigating and displacing the land, the land is concentrated in a counter-agrarian reform that cannot but further weaken the nation; weaken all Colombians.
The testimonies about the immense damages are there, it is necessary to listen and support those affected. Recent testimonies of citizen complaints and burned lands can be found in the documentary made in the Sierra in October 2004 by Natalia Zuluaga and her French film crew within the framework of the follow-up to the Andean Amazon Forum. In a country where few people complain, the Colombian Ombudsman's Office has registered between 1999 and 2003 in just Guaviare, Putumayo and Caquetá more than 8000 complaints http://www.mamacoca.org/FSMT_sept_2003/pdf/ Base% 20de% 20datos% 20quejas.csv of citizens harmed by the fumigations.
The Representative of Guaviare Pedro Arenas denounces that the modalities of application of the fumigations vary from one region to another. The fear that fumigations arouse among defenseless populations is the same throughout the country and should be a sufficient complaint for a government that claims to love and care for its people. Both the Colombian Ombudsman
suspension_fumigaciones.htm> have warned the government about the irresponsibility, doubtful effectiveness and illegitimacy of this measure. Various debates in Congress
In the United States, many congressmen have spoken out against this measure of aerial spraying in the context of the war. In Europe, the European Parliament has also voiced its disapproval of the alternative development crops financed by them and others being sprayed. In an initiative that summoned 135 Colombian Congressmen, Senators Jorge Robledo and Jumí, among many others, renewed parliamentary initiatives for the application of the fumigation measure to be publicly debated. The need for transparency and greater participation of the Congress and the citizens of Colombia in decisions about fumigations is observed.
Currently, the Colombian State is proposing scientific studies on the damages caused by fumigations; their legitimacy depends on their transparency to the general public and on their scientific validity. Recognized environmentalists affirm that aerial spraying with reinforced glyphosate is inducing the destruction of one of the most biodiverse countries in the world whose water sources are a wealth greater than the much coveted oil. The Administration maintains that the contamination caused by the precursors used to manufacture cocaine justifies the fumigation. Skidding in the vicious circle of scorched earth policy: crops-fumigation-displacement-more glyphosate crops- more fumigation .. 
* Mama Coca