|Urban||Rural||Total||Men||Women||Children (0-14 years)||Indigenous
(11 ethnic groups)
The Putumayo territory includes a natural park called La Paya with 1,013.68
acres of wetlands and tropical forest and various other areas such as the
high plain of Quilinsayaco, the mountains of Churumbelos, and the sources
of the Caquetá and Putumayo Rivers, in the Pastos knotch of the
Colombian Macizo (massif).
|TYPE OF VEGETATION||EXTENSION (Sq. Km)||EXTENSION (Acres)|
|Andean Forest (AF)||726,0||
|Amazon basin forest (ABF)||15 625,0||
3 885 936
|Fragmented Andean Agro Ecosystem (AAF)||4 018,0||
|Amazon Basin Agro-Ecosystem (ABA)||4 949,0||
1 230 816
6 354 282
The region's economic system has been characterized throughout its history by an extractive exploitation of selected natural resources at low cost —with minimum, or practically no added value placed on the territory of the Putumayo— that which has for the most part benefited outside actors. First came rubber, then oil, and now coca.
The presence of the Colombian state in the region has corresponded more to the economic and social circumstances described above than to a true planning process that would allow the territory of the department to be developed in accordance with criterion of competitiveness and social integration. Thus, the region's settlers have tended to spontaneously develop their own productive processes in an overall unregulated manner. It is only after the fact that the state has responded, without planning ahead for the future. Proof of this is that, in the second part of the last century, the Putumayo was thought of as a base to establish and maintain the state's military presence and colonization endeavors directed at populating and safeguarding national sovereignty on the borders with Ecuador and Peru. Later it was considered unoccupied territory, initially susceptible to being treated as a forested area reserved for limited use, afterwards its territory was reserved for oil exploration and exploitation. Finally, it was seen as a new frontier for the population that had been pushed out from the interior of the country, in order to relieve the pressure on the large urban centers. This series of events has built up, and today they are played out in a scenario of social conflict between various actors with one sole motive: the cultivation of the coca leaf.
The employment generated by the coca economy is not formal. That is
to say, there are no true work ties, much less any type of social security.
Local commerce only participates in the productive process as a supplier
of electrical appliances, food and clothing. In short, most of the earnings
from the business do not go to the inhabitants of the Putumayo, for whom
it has merely been a mirage of rapid wealth and a reality of poverty and
|Average acres of coca per family||5.7|
|Number of harvests per acre/year||14.8|
|Amount of coca paste produced per acre||0.9 kilos|
|Average cost to the producer per kg. of paste||US$ 600|
|Gross annual income from coca per family||US$ 18,216|
|Cost of production for 5,681 acres||US$ 12,805|
|Annual net income per family||US$ 5,411|
|Average monthly income per family||US$ 451|
|Total employee shifts/year in the department||10,736,344|
|Number shifts in industrial cultivations/year||8,589,105|
|Number shifts in family cultivations/year||2,147,229|
|Number of jobs/year in the department generated by coca cultivation||44,735|
|Family jobs generated per year||8,947|
The coca economy has engendered two very dramatic phenomena. The first of these is a repercussion intricately tied the management of this type of business, namely, the settlement of scores paid by one's life. This has increased homicide rates well above the national average: in 1996, 51% of the deaths in the Putumayo were due to homicides, and in 1997, the figures rose to 62%. The second phenomenon has to do with the direct involvement of illegal armed actors in the business, leading to armed confrontation between them for territorial control. This has mainly affected the civilian population, who is forced to abide by the commercial and military demands of whichever group is in control of the territory they inhabit.
Along with the economic and social drama already described, it is important to highlight the environmental damage caused by the coca economy. The indiscriminate clearing of the forest, alteration of biophysical processes and the loss of areas of high biodiversity in the Amazon to make way for coca cultivation, has displaced the invaluable natural frontier to unreachable spaces. Estimates are that, for every acre of coca planted and for every 2.5 acres of poppy planted, nearly 4.01 acres of virgin forest are destroyed. [(GEMSI Ltd. in the magazine UNAL, 2000.] The negative environmental impact of coca cultivation is amplified by the insecticides, pesticides, and fertilizers used to maximize production and process the coca leaf. It is calculated that for every hectare of coca, over two metric tons of chemical substances, including cement, lime, gasoline, sulfuric acid, caustic soda, fungicides, herbicides and fertilizers, are emptied into the environment.
Fumigation in the Department of the Putumayo was carried out without taking the community into account and it has caused severe food shortages in the fumigated zones, as well as destruction of habitat and increasing social conflict in the region. Fumigation was furthermore carried out without taking into account the procedures —for fumigating with glyphosate— stipulated by Resolution Number 005, August 11, 2000 of the , National Narcotics Council (Consejo Nacional de Estupefacientes).
The above situation is aggravated when peasant coca-growers are doomed to expand the agricultural frontier to continue cultivating coca, in view of the lack of sound alternative projects with which to survive.
Coca eradication through aggressive means —such as fumigation— and without
acting in concert with the community has dismally failed on a nationwide
basis. No sooner are crops fumigated in one place, than farmers move elsewhere
to replant, as indicated by the following table:
|Year||Coca-growing areas (hectares)||Eradicated areas (hectares)||% Eradication of cultivated area|
Moreover, expansion of coca cultivation has destroyed biodiversity and protected areas, such as natural parks and wilderness areas, causing physical-biological changes and imbalances in the ecosystem.
Finally, continued insistence on laying the emphasis on repressive policies to eradicate coca, gives the impression that the idea of global co-responsibility in combating drug trafficking will keep on being a mere theoretical declaration as long as producers continue paying the high price.
This is the framework for our proposal "A PUTUMAYO WITHOUT COCA WITH SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND WITHOUT FUMIGATION". It operates on the fundamental premise, that is:
The need for an agreement to be reached between the Colombian state, the civil society of the Putumayo, its territorial organizations and the community of nations towards delineating a consistent, long term policy for the development of the Amazon Region; agreement, which would, in all instances, allow the region to surmount the extractive economic model that has subjugated the peoples of the Putumayo and Amazon Region.
We propose this agreement in two vast scenarios:
This arrangement would likewise contribute to the building of a new
sense of citizenship in the Putumayans, based on an awareness of their
social and political rights and duties. Thus, Putumayo's citizens —through
civil organizations and public participation— would contribute to the development
of policies of coexistence which would minimize the department's rates
of violence by promoting respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian
Law. To this end, we pledge ourselves to work towards collectively building
the Putumayo we yearn for, by organizing and improving dialogue; seeking
concerted solutions to the social problem of coca cultivation; contributing
to promoting recognition of the unpostponable need to build an open, just
and equal society; sponsoring the construction of humane values; promoting
citizen participation as a decision-making mechanism to link the community
and the Departmental Government; defending the dignity of the Putumayan
people involved in the region's social development. In short, to seek concerted
solutions to the root causes of the region's social problems and thus to
achieve peaceful coexistence.
To this end, it would be convenient to underline the fact that our development potential lies preferably in the region's rich biodiversity and natural resources, more than in agricultural and fisheries projects. Nevertheless, natural-resource conservation projects are extremely vast and thus require the participation of the community of nations within a framework of global co-responsibility —in this case, not to combat narcotics— but to preserve and economically empower local communities in the maintenance of the Planet's environmental balance through a system that would allow natural resources to be measured in terms of market value so that they might generate the funds —for example in the form of Green Bonds or Amazon Forest Incentives— required for their protection.
Gentlemen, we consider the support to these projects by the European countries and by their Non Governmental Organizations vital to the Putumayo Region and to global environmental balance and security.
IVAN GERARDO GUERRERO GUEVARA
Governor of the Department of the Putumayo
|Mama Coca Home||Contra la Guerra Biológica||.Enlaces||Contáctenos|