Newsbrief: With National Parks Threatened, Colombia Fumigation Petition Drive Underway 12/19/03

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Mama Coca ( is spearheading a petition drive asking for an end to the spraying of dangerous herbicides as part of the US-backed effort to eradicate the Colombian coca crop. The group, an international organization of scholars and activists with an interest in illicit crops, was founded in response to the environmental damage associated with Plan Colombia, the joint effort by the US and the government of President Alvaro Uribe to end Colombia's four-decade civil war by wiping out both the coca economy and the leftist rebels of the FARC (Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces) and ELN (National Liberation Army).

According to environmentalists, the aerial spraying of the herbicide glyphosate has damaged licit as well as illicit crops, poisoned waterways, and caused injury and sickness to livestock and humans. In October 2002, Colombian government ombudsman Eduardo Cifuentes called for the suspension of the spraying program in Putumayo state, citing more than 6,000 complaints of damage to food crops and a "severe humanitarian crisis" provoked by the combination of armed conflict and widespread spraying. He was ignored by the Uribe administration.

While Mama Coca has always been among the panoply of environmental, human rights, peace and other groups opposing the aerial spraying of the herbicide glyphosate on Colombian peasants' coca fields, recent actions by the US and Colombian governments have made the issue even more critical. Earlier this month, in conference committee deliberations over the omnibus US appropriations bill, supporters of Plan Colombia won approval of language that would allow the spraying of glyphosate in Colombia's national parks under certain conditions. Those conditions are that the spraying not violate Colombian law and that "there are no effective alternatives" to eradicate coca crops in those locations.

But in June, the Uribe administration attempted to open the way to spraying in Colombia's park by means of an administrative resolution from the National Anti-Narcotics Directorate. That move, however, contradicts Colombia's 1991 constitution, which leaves control of parks in the Ministry of the Environment.

"The US Congress demands that aerial eradication with chemical substances be only used as an extreme measure," wrote Mama Coca in its petition. "We demand that Human Rights be respected and that the Precautionary Principle be abided by... [as Colombia has agreed to do by adopting the Cartagena Protocol to the International Convention on Biological Diversity]... and according to which, when and where there is a risk of severe and irreversible damage, the lack of certainty should not be used as a reason for applying measures which could lead to the degradation of people's health and environment. We demand a halt to fumigation."

The open petitions will be delivered to the Organization of American States, the Interamerican Drug Abuse Control Commission, the Interamerican Human Rights Court, the United Nations Environmental Program, and the Colombian state council.

To read and sign the petition in English, visit:

To read and sign the petition in Spanish, visit:

To read and sign the petition in French, visit:

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Issue #316, 12/19/03 Editorial: Why Prohibition Scares Me | Victory! Federal Appeals Court Rules Feds Can't Persecute Medical Marijuana Patients | Supreme Court Okays Arrest of All Occupants in Cars Where Unclaimed Drugs Are Found | Flex Your Rights in News -- New and Improved BUSTED Video Offer Available from DRCNet Too | Afghanistan: Drug War Yields to Terror War as Rumsfeld Glad-Hands Drug Dealing Warlords | Newsbrief: Georgia Deputy Kills Innocent Man in Highway Drug Stop | Newsbrief: Campaign Watch -- Kucinich Says Legalize It | Newsbrief: Morocco Cannabis Production Booming, UN Drug Office Reports | Newsbrief: Canadian Supreme Court to Rule Next Week on Key Marijuana Cases | Newsbrief: With National Parks Threatened, Colombia Fumigation Petition Drive Underway | Newsbrief: Nigerian Reefer Madness Breaks Out as Officials Blame Marijuana for Social Strife | Newsbrief: UN Drug Office Predicts Humanitarian Crisis as Myanmar Opium Ban Goes Into Effect | Announcement: New Hemp Nutrition Bar Supports Advocacy | DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime | Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions | The Reformer's Calendar
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