06 October 2004
According to peasant leader Lelver Dimas, the effects of previous fumigations have been disastrous for riverbeds and staple crops.
Spokesman for peasants living in Guachaca, Palomino y Minca (Magdalena), which includes approximantely 10,000 workers, yesterday in a meeting with international ONGs and French journalists, condemned the harmful effects of past fumigations of this zone which includes 52 rural districts (veredas).
“They even fumigated our fields and crops and people are now going hungry”, accused the peasant leader.
He sustained that the destruction is
noticeable in the crops themselves. Some peasants showed us oranges the size
and color of lemons as well as plantains, manioc and other foodstuff that,
when cut open, look as if they had been burnt. “The avocados no longer give
more than one crop before the trees die”, commented another peasant.
The estimate that rural districts in the Sierra Nevada have at least 10 water sources each, counting small and large creeks, rivers and water beds.
The journalists and environmentalists recorded peasant, settlers and indigenous leaders’ accusations. Mama Coca has requested that international agencies such as the United Nations and the OAS intervene to halt fumigation in Colombia’s natural reserves.
Failure to comply
According to a Plan Colombia commission with
flew over the Sierra Nevada, 8 of the rural districts which signed the
Forest Guard Program failed to comply with eradication..
Program representative, María Victoria Uribe, threatened to take the program, which foresees bimonthly payments of 847 mil pesos (US $385) for manual eradication, out of the Sierra. She finally recognized eradication efforts by the remaining 18 districts and offered to expand coverage to other interested families.
Meanwhile, Diego León Caicedo Muñoz counternarcotics base commander in Santa Marta, commented that the order to resume fumigation in the Sierra could arrive form Bogotá at any moment..
Two months ago the antinarcotics police fumigated 2080 hectares of crops in the Sierra. Prior to this, there were confrontations between the local authorities and peasants who had protested by blocking the main road.
‘It can only be a last resort’
'Mama Coca' has issued a petition demanding that the Colombian government cease fumigation.
This petition is addressed to the OAS, the CICAD, the Inter American Human Rights Court and the UNEP as well as to the Colombian State Council (Note MM: In recent sentence of Oct 2004 the State Council has given way to Uribe’s fumigation war).
The environmentalists have stated that US norms do not
allow the use of these funds to fumigate natural parks immediately. On the
contrary, they pose two conditions to be met:
First, that Colombian norms authorize fumigation and second, that there be proof that alternative measures to fumigation have been tested and proven to have failed. Fumigation can only be an extreme resort.
Leonardo Herrera Delghams
Enviado especial de EL TIEMPO