Fumigating the Nation's Parks*
Alfredo Molano Bravo
Yosemite is one of the most beautiful national parks of the United States. Cascades which fall a thousand meters, gigantic rocks, pine forests and sequoias which are over 2000 years old. It is a postcard, a symbol. Well, in this paradise there is marijuana. I met a Mexican who used to go over there to make a couple of bucks with the crops the Americans have. What would happen if Bush gave the order to fumigate Yosemite from the air? The protest marches against this measure would be massive and the man would be thrown right out of the White House. I'm just saying this because of the bad habit that our knelt-down politicians have of setting the USA as an example. Now the U.S. Congress has ordered the national parks and protected areas in Colombia to be bombarded with glyphosate. Undoubtedly, this decision originated in the Antinarcotics Council, headed by Colonel Plazas Vegas, the selfsame person who entered the Colombian Palace of Justice with tanks in order to defend −let's not forget− democracy. Today he is, most likely -like the president of the Republic- a cattleman; that which would help to explain why this Administration scorns the environment.
National parks are where life is deposited; they are a legacy of biodiversity and belong to our future, more than to our present. According to the Constitution, all the rest can be chewed by the cows. But these areas are intangible, they cannot be mortgaged, they are timeless rights and cannot be revised. National Parks can only be used for their own conservation, to enjoy nature, or for scientific research. The colonosí (frontiersman) clearing of the rainforest to plant corn or coca, as in the Macarena; wood mills as those under the international patent of the Saquianga deforesting company; and building country estates in the Rosario Islands are all illegal activities. Itís not a matter of romanticism: national parks today protect 70 percent of the sources of the water we consume.
The national park system −50 in all, covering 10 million hectares− is the genetic database of the nation. To bombard it with poisons is even worse than to burn the archives of the National Library, the nation's general archives, or to throw the Bank of the Republic's Gold Museum into the sea.
Fumigation with glyphosate raises a controversy which is generally decided, not in favor of the precautionary principle as ordered by the law, but in favor of the established political power. The precautionary principle is not a contingency; it is an obligation when there is no proof regarding the effects of a public measure. By disregarding it, the government would be violating the Constitution. In the case of glyphosate, its harmlessness, supposedly garnered from scientific proof, has been imposed and decreed by the government contrary to arguments by the Comptrollerís and the Ombudsmanís offices, at least under Cifuentes, and a great number of environmental and scientific agencies. In Colombia, according to the Comptrollerís Office, fumigation has been carried out without taking into consideration the legal requirements stipulated by the authorities, and it has generated serious constitutional objections. Furthermore, fumigating the nationís parks violates international treaties which should be enforced domestically.
Washing its hands of the matter, despite what U.S. environmentalists say, the United States says it is willing to suspend the allocation of the funds for fumigation if there is proof that the people affected by fumigation have not been adequately compensated for the harm caused. Lodging a complaint in Colombia is, for all purposes, impossible. Only one out of 4500 complaints, according to the Ombudsmanís Office, can fulfill the legal requirements in order to be taken into consideration. In view of that, the State Department will have no objection to handing over the money to Monsanto so that it will sell the Colombian government its poison mixture, so concentrated that its use is not authorized in the United States by the EPA, according to the Comptrollerís Office.
The nation's parks are not necessarily deserted. Many of them overlap with Indian tribal lands −Kogui, Arhuaco, Cofanesí territory− where ancestral coca is grown. And these tribal lands will also be poisoned despite recent agreements between Uribe and the indigenous peoples. The Indian Peoples are already wholeheartedly protesting and maybe the collective action suit against fumigating the nationís parks and natural reserves will serve as a reminder so that the Constitutional Court can remind the US Congress that this measure is absolutely illegal. It's the only way to stop this criminal decision.
*Taken from El Espectador (http://www.elespectador.com)
Translated from Spanish by MamaCoca
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