HEARTS OF COLOMBIA
The plan is to give farmers a one-time payment of (?) to plant alternative crops like corn, rice and Heart of Palm. Heart of Palm takes fifteen months to grow, while Coca takes only three months to grow. Rice takes only four months to grow but you need tons of it to make the same profit from one kilo of coca. I wondered how all the farmers voluntarily agreed with this plan. In interviews with the non-profits that implement the plan, I found out that if one farmer in a community agreed, they all had to agree, or no payment. Plus they would be placed on the list for fumigation. This caused a lot of arguments in the pueblitos, where 90% of the rural population lives in abject poverty, and pressure to sign on was great.
We were lead through three farms by Don Ishmael,
his wife and cousin. All of these farms had eradicated coca over two years ago,
at the beginning of Plan
On our way back from the country our bus was
stopped and entered by a paramilitary soldier. There is a civil war going on in
When we went to our meeting at the
We also saw many fields of tall grass that fumigation had destroyed. This, along with poor roads and great distances to transport crops, is another obstacle for farmers in implementing alternatives to coca growing. Besides having less to feed their livestock, studies have shown it can make the animals sick and may cause deaths. It is not yet known if the meat, milk or eggs from these animals will adversely effect humans. And we saw two water sources that were fumigated, which is illegal, and people and their livestock drink it. During an interview with a nurse who participated in health studies on fumigation, she told us health problems in fumigated areas have doubled since it began. The folks at the embassy started out by saying there are no side effects from fumigation and then when we showed them a photo of a woman whose arms were burned from fumigation they said, “Oh yes, some people are allergic.”
What if we hadn’t gone through the trouble we did
to visit these farms, and what if the farmers had been afraid to allow us? I am worried that some of these over 8,000
claims from farmers have validity and will never get paid. Considering 90% of the rural population lives
in abject poverty, this will add to the internal displacement and result in
more refugees to the
©2003 Mama Coca. Please share this information and help us to circulate it quoting Mama Coca.
br> ©2003 Mama Coca. Please share this information and help us to circulate it quoting Mama Coca.