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Roundtable: ‘Illicits’ Crops and Peace Agenda[1]

Alternate Peaceful Solutions to the "War on Drugs"

Bogotá, March  2001

With the initiation of the Plan Colombia,  the issue of crops used for illicit purposes has become the central topic of Colombian politics.  This will continue to be so in the years to come. If the future of peace and war depends on the decisions made regarding this issue, it is imperative for civil society to propose peaceful alternatives towards promoting sustainable development, social justice and the respect of the individual and communal rights of the peoples living in regions where Coca, poppy and marihuna are grown. Those of us who are searching for peace have the moral and political obligation to thwart a military offensive against Colombian peasants carried out in the name of "the war on drugs and against violence", which permits narcotics mafias to maintain their hold on international havens and to increase their wealth thanks to the high prices, violence and corruption which accompanies prohibitionism.

We wish to present the following programatic proposals regarding the relationship between "'Ilicit' Crops and the Peace Agenda" to Colombia's civil society, political parties, insurgency, government and to the international community.

I. Halt Fumigations Inmediately!

A recent instance of intensive aerial fumigation is that of the department Putumayo. Acording to the Defensoría del Pueblo (Ombusdman), even Alternative Development Proyects and projects sponsored by the international community were fumigated; as were fumigated the licit crops of peasant and indigenous communities who had already signed “letters of intentions or of engagement" for voluntary manual eradication. Spraying with "gliphosate" herbicide —states this official report— increased the deforestation of the Amazon piedmont, destroyed food crops and medicinal plantations, affected fishing sources, increased the migration of wildlife, contaminated waters sources, jeopardized food supplies, raised the cost of living and led to population displacement towards other regions of Colombia and to Ecuador.[2].

II. Design a Fresh Approach to International Co-responsibility

III. Assess Counternarcotics Policies

IV. Decriminalize and despenalize: the basics towards concurrence

V. Progressive, shared and equitable

VI. Substitution or competitive policies?

VII. Self-management, solidarity and environmental sutainability

VIII. Agrarian Reform, Territorial Planning, and Employment

IX. Rocognition of Indigenous People's Autonomy

X. Actions by the peace and negotiation tables

XI. Social Mobilization, support for regional oversight and processes

[1] This proposal summary is the result of a discussion process carried out at different events during the past year. On the 22, 29 and 30 of March  2001 members of different social organizations participated in the Roundtables: CINEP (Center for the Research and Education of the People), Observatory on Drugs (Observatorio de Drogas), Legislative Unit of Senator Rafael Orduz, Legislative Unit of Representative Gustavo Petro, ILSA or Latin American Institute for Alternative Legal Services, Centro Debate, INDEPAZ (Institute for Peace Studies), CEUDES (Democratic Corporations for Development), ANDAS (National Association for Solidarity and Aid) , Corporación Telar de Agua, Crisoles, ICANH (Colombia Institute of Anrhopology and History), Indigenous Resguardo  of Calderas, CIDER, Fundepublico, Conferencia Episcopal, USO Syndicate Peace Assembly, Siempreviva, "Illicit" Crops Network of the Andes University, Semilla Mejorana and independent researchers. In order to widen the scope of these debates and to continue with them, a proposition is made regarding the need to organize regional Roundtables and discussion groups.

[2] Defensoría del Pueblo (Ombudsman), Informe Defensorial # 1, 9 feb/01; Resolución # 4, 12 feb/01. www.defensoria.org.co

[3] “Coca which was once chewed solely by the indigenous peoples of our isoltaed mountains, became a luxury intem thanks to US government policies. Something we had little say in, neither in its origins nor in its fatal results. But now we are ‘The Colombian Connection’”, said the ex-president Alberto Lleras Camargo (EL TIEMPO, Bogotá February 1979).

[4] Law 333 of 1996

[5]Bioprospection seeks to shortcut and lower the costs of identifying genetic resources, or active principle of living organisms, in order to transform them, for example, into pharmaceutic products. To this end, the collective knowledge of local and indigenous communities is used. The problem rises when this genetic knowledge and resources —which are inalienable—  is usurped through patenting, including that of living organisms, and through shady “economic retributions”. It is at this point that biosprospection becomes piracy. 

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