This document is part of the implementation of the project: Organization of a Productive Development Initiative for the Putumayo on the Basis of Voluntary Manual Eradication and Gradual Substitution of Illicit Crops. This initiative for the first Social Alternative Development and Voluntary Eradication Pact was born in 18 adminstrative units in the municipality of Puerto Asís. This a particularly complex scenario since it is a zone of confrontation and influence of the 24th Brigade of the National Armed Forces, the paramilitary squads, United Self-Defense Groups of Colombia (AUC), and several fronts of the Colombian Revolutionary Forces (FARC). Nonetheless, the proposal was initially accepted as an experience which all of the armed actors were willing to tolerate: the FARC and the AUC to show that they would not be affected by eradication of illicit crops, and the army, as a sign of their willingness to avoid applying unnecessary repressive measures.
The merit of this experience lies in the fact that it emerged as a local initiative, thus generating the space and availability for people to participate in the process of analysis and criterion development regarding the initial requirements to be taken into consideration when building an organizational model that would be manageable and sustainable, so as to lead to the definitive abandonment of economic dependency on coca.
In October, after the International "Peace-for-Colombia" Summit in Costa Rica, and as of the government's weakness vis-à-vis the armed strike imposed by the FARC on the Putumayo since September, there was a noticeable change of attitude regarding the "Social Pacts". The Colombian government realized that fumigating the Putumayo was not the best way of inaugurating the Plan Colombia since it would be counterproductive for its fund-raising campaign with the European Union, from whom it required resources for the social-development programs of the Plan. All of a sudden, the "Social Pacts" were the participatory mechanisms needed by the Plan Colombia and —at least as regards official discourse— small growers were no longer delinquents. They now became the natural allies in the crusade against the scourge of narcotics trafficking and violence in the Putumayo.
Mocoa, December 2000
[complete article: Spanish/French]
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