Coca Workers and Colombia To Negotiate Eradication

Coca Workers and Colombia To Negotiate Eradication
Posted by FoM on June 16, 2001 at 10:26:23 PT
By Juan O. Tamayo
Source: Miami Herald
Some 3,000 coca workers who rioted in the town of Tibú to protest the U.S.-backed spraying of their fields with herbicides have returned home but will meet with government envoys to negotiate a voluntary eradication pact, officials said Friday.The disturbances were the first outbreak of public violence against stepped-up Colombian government efforts -- financed and operated by the U.S. State Department -- to eradicate coca fields with aerial spraying of a herbicide.
The 3,000 farmhands began leaving Thursday, after residents angered by the rioting forced their way into the stadium where they were staying and took away their food stocks, acting Tibú Mayor Gonzalo Cárdenas said.``Our people picked up rocks and lined up on the side of the riot police because they were tired of all the outrages,'' Cárdenas said in a phone interview from Tibú, a town of 13,000 people 280 miles northeast of Bogotá.One rioter was killed by police in a week of intermittent clashes in which the coca workers set fire to a local refueling base for the crop dusters, a firehouse and the town's only school.But the farmworkers got part of what they wanted, a meeting with government officials to discuss their demands for a halt in a three-week old spray campaign against the estimated 17,000 acres of coca north of Tibú.In return for the halt and government subsidies for alternative crops, they are offering to uproot their coca bushes, a deal like others negotiated in December by the national government with coca farmers in southern Putumayo state.Cárdenas said he will send a delegation today to the village of La Gabarra, the region's coca-growing center, to help organize a negotiating committee made up of coca farmers and field workers.The committee will later meet with state Gov. Juan Alcides and eventually will travel to Bogotá to meet with aides to President Andrés Pastrana in charge of the voluntary eradication pacts, Cárdenas said.U.S. officials have expressed misgivings about the agreements in Putumayo.The officials say the agreements stop the fumigations but offer few guarantees that the coca farmers will uproot their crops, and none at all that they will not replant.Complete Title: After Rioting, Coca Workers and Colombia To Negotiate Eradication Source: Miami Herald (FL)Author: Juan O. TamayoPublished: Saturday, June 16, 2001 Copyright: 2001 The Miami HeraldContact: heralded herald.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Colombia Drug War News Coca Farmers' Riots Fuel U.S.-Colombia Spraying Workers Riot Against U.S. Spray Effort Articles - Putumayo 
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