Latin America: Colombia to Suspend Aerial Fumigation Along Border With Ecuador 11/25/05

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The government of Colombia announced November 17 it would suspend the aerial spraying of herbicides designed to kill coca and opium crops along its southern border with Ecuador. Colombian officials said they were taking the action at Ecuador's request.

aerial fumigation in Antioquia province
from selvas.org, by Javier Casella, Defense Ministry
"Paying attention to the request of the Ecuadorian government, of a friendly brother country like Ecuador, the Colombian government has decided to review this program and to suspend it beginning next January," said Colombian Vice-Chancellor Camilo Reyes during a meeting in Quito, the Ecuadorian capital, with his Ecuadorian counterpart, Diego Ribadeneira. But the respite could be temporary, Reyes warned. "I cannot define the duration because this is a complex problem that implies an enormous effort on the part of the Colombian government to confront the drug trade," he said in remarks reported by the Spanish news agency EFE.

According to Ribadeneira, instead of spraying along the border, Colombia will apply "a scheme of manual eradication of illicit crops." To ensure proper support for the new program, said Ribadeneira, "the Colombian government has increased financial and human resources through a larger police presence and the creation of new eradication teams in the border zone."

Like Colombian peasants, who have seen the aerial spraying of herbicides like glyphosate spread over hundreds of thousands of acres a year, Ecuadorians have complained the spraying has had negative effects on human, animals, and plants. While the Colombian government has denied any such effects, it has now yielded to Ecuadorian demands that it stop spraying in a zone extending 10 kilometers (6.25 miles) north of the common border.

The move was welcomed by drug reformers in the US, who hope it signals the eventual end of spraying across Colombia. "Colombia's aerial eradication campaign is a particularly egregious case of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, who recently returned from Colombia. "One can only hope that the temporary halt will soon become permanent, saving Colombian citizens even more grief from the disastrous Plan Colombia."

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Issue #412 -- 11/25/05

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Feature: San Francisco Regulates Medical Marijuana Dispensaries | Europe: Dutch Parliament Ponders Experiment in "Legal" Coffeeshop Supply | The Prohibition Debate: Former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Sparks Controversy with Call for Look at Drug Decriminalization | Prohibition and Violence: California Dispensary/Grower Robberies Claim First Fatality | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Law Enforcement: Austin Police Chief Fires Cop Who Killed Daniel Rocha | Sentencing: Rhode Island Federal Judges Not Waiting for Congress to Fix Crack-Powder Cocaine Sentencing Disparities | Sentencing: Indiana Judge Compares Meth Cook to a Terrorist, Gives Him 30 Years | Medical Marijuana: Arkansas, Wisconsin Legislatures Hold Hearings | Latin America: Colombia to Suspend Aerial Fumigation Along Border With Ecuador | Web Scan: EMCDDA, Cato on Mexico, Jews and Medical Marijuana | Job Opportunity: Operations and Technology Coordinator, Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative, DC Area | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar


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