SOS for the Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon (OPIAC)


-----Mensaje original-----
De: Betsy Marsh []
Enviado el: Martes, 01 de Julio de 2003 09:16 a.m.
Asunto: Colombia: Support Requested to Halt Fumigation

From: Amazon Alliance <> 

(unofficial translation) 

Received: Fri, 20 Jun 2003 

From: Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon (OPIAC)


SOS for the Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon (OPIAC)


The Colombian Constitutional Court requires that the Colombian Government consult the indigenous peoples of the Colombian Amazon on eradication of illicit crops within their territories.


The Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon (OPIAC) requests the support of bodies supporting human rights, along with

non-governmental organizations, governments and indigenous communities around the world in order for the Colombian government to comply with the mandate by the [federal Constitutional] Court. According to the court, the government must consult with indigenous peoples in accordance with ILO Convention 169 in regards to the herbicidal fumigation of illicit crops in indigenous peoples territories.  It is essential for the indigenous peoples of the Colombian Amazon that this practice be terminated as it is detrimental to their health, bio-diversity and cultural diversity, and causes great damage to their ancestral territory.


1. The Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon (OPIAC) has, since 2001, placed orders in the Colombian high court against various Colombian authorities with the hope that the judicial body would protect indigenous peoples' most fundamental rights to life including health, personal development, cultural integrity, civil participation, due process of law, and a clean, safe environment.


2. The Colombian Constitutional Court in the General Session on March 11 and May 13, 2003, according to dossier T-517583, resolved to protect the right that indigenous peoples "demanded with regards to ethnic diversity, cultural diversity, participation, and personal development" without including the right "for the reestablishment of the collective interests to life, health, and a safe/clean environment,".


-Even though the decision favoring the indigenous peoples is not the view shared by everyone, it is considered an important step since it opens up areas for participation for all within the country of Colombia in regards to the issue over aerial fumigations. For example, it has come to light that there are no known serious studies that clearly determine the noxious effects of the herbicide fumigant.  Additionally, any studies of the herbicidal fumigant that exist are not impartial and unbiased. It has only been researched by the same authorities that are in charge of the fumigation, the United States and Colombian governments.


3. As of right now, the debate has once again become a key issue. It has been years since the time at which the fumigations began in Colombian land. As a result, we request that all scientific, social, economic, political, governmental or non-governmental bodies, and defenders of human rights, that possess studies and information regarding the fumigations program, please send documents and concerns that you have in regards to the issue to OPIAC, Carrera 8. No, 19-24 piso 5, telephone: 2826010 in Bogota, Colombia.



4. Until today, OPIAC has not received news of the decision by the Constitutional Court.  In a press release sent to OPIAC by the court, the

following was conveyed:


"In regards to the existing tension between the Eradication Program of illicit substances, which governing bodies (the President of the Republic, The National Council on Narcotics, the Ministers of the Interior and Justice, and the Minister of the Environment) are demanding continue within the Amazon region, and the cosmovision of the original, ancestral communities that occupy the area, the Court considers it essential that the reasoning, alternatives, and suggestions proposed by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon be valued by the authorities that lead the program, in accordance with the rule on prior informed consent in Law 21 of 1991, that supports ILO Convention 169."


As a result, it appears to us as indigenous peoples, that this sentence states that the Colombian government may not fumigate in indigenous

territories without previously consulting with each and every indigenous peoples.


5. With the Court's decision we await the beginning of a larger debate not only at the national level but also at the international level on the

reality of the effects that fumigations are having on indigenous peoples. In preparation for the governmental consultation, our communities have begun to develop simple strategies. We believe that the consultation should be financed by the same governmental department as states ILO Convention 169. Additionally, it should be developed within the same affected communities and not by a single leader or head. We urge all affected indigenous communities to actively participate by providing their proposals on alternatives to the current program of erradication of illicit substances through aerial spraying and its damaging effects in our territories.


6. The preceding themes were addressed in the first meeting of the OPIAC network.  Among the participants were delegates from the Public Ombudsman's office, the Attorney General of the Nation, MINGA, the Collective of Lawyers, and other indigenous delegates and representatives from various regions of the Amazon interested in these themes. The meetings will continue and we hope that more relationships develop and form, in order to broaden the number of proposals on alternatives to the current fumigations program.


7. It is logical that the Court's decision be for the benefit of the indigenous peoples and communities that are affected.  For that, we need to

build relationships and include the entire nation, seeking the support of all governmental or non-governmental organizations who already consider this a problem in order to seek out solutions for the well-being of all of Colombia. To this end, it is necessary that we direct communications to the Colombian government where we express and request the enforcement of the Constitutional Court order which respects and guarantees the territorial and fundamental rights of the affected communities. We also request the immediate suspension of this method of eradicating illicit crops and seek to see a process of consultation for approval as described in ILO Convention 169, ratified by the Colombian Congress according to Law 21 of 1991.


Executive Committee of OPIAC



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Todos los derechos de autor pertenecen al autor originario. La Alianza

Amazonica no ha verificado la veracidad de este mensaje.  Enviar este

mensaje no necesariamente significa que la Alianza Amazonica este de acuerdo

con el contenido.


La Alianza Amazonica para los Pueblos Indigenas y Tradicionales de la Cuenca

Amazonica es una iniciativa nacida de la alianza entre los pueblos indigenas

y tradicionales de la Amazonia y grupos e individuos que comparten sus

preocupaciones por el futuro de la Amazonia y sus pueblos. Hay mas de ochenta

organizaciones del norte y del sur activas en la Alianza Amazonica. La

Alianza Amazonica trabaja para defender los derechos, territorios, y el

medio ambiente de los pueblos indigenas y tradicionales de la Cuenca



The Amazon Alliance for Indigenous and Traditional Peoples of the Amazon

Basin is an initiative born out of the partnership between indigenous and

traditional peoples of the Amazon and groups and individuals who share their

concerns for the future of the Amazon and its peoples. There are over eighty

non-governmental organizations from the North and South active in the

Alliance. The Amazon Alliance works to defend the rights, territories, and

environment of indigenous and traditional peoples of the Amazon Basin. 



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