Debate Sharpens on U.S.-Backed Drug Sprayings 

Debate Sharpens on U.S.-Backed Drug Sprayings 
Posted by FoM on August 05, 2001 at 16:16:23 PT
By Michael Easterbrook, Associated Press
Source: Associated Press
Battle lines are being drawn over the massive fumigation of drug crops in Colombia, with opponents saying it poses health risks while the U.S. ambassador warns that aid could be withheld if the Washington-backed plan is scrapped. The country's top anti-narcotics enforcer, meanwhile, is accusing drug traffickers who have lost of millions of dollars in profits of waging a smear campaign against Washington's $1.3 billion counterdrug offensive. 
''What I have seen is a plot against the fumigations,'' Gen. Gustavo Socha, chief of the anti-narcotics police, told The Associated Press on Saturday. ''The drug traffickers are generating false information and forcing people to disseminate it.'' Though he did not provide specific examples, Socha said drug traffickers were forcing peasants to give false testimony about alleged illnesses from the sprayings. Farmers and a coalition of governors from southern Colombia are demanding an end to the fumigation. The governors have visited the U.S. Congress to make their case. The fumigation drive, in which planes spray herbicide on drug crops protected by leftist rebels and rival paramilitary forces, is the key to Washington's strategy to curb drug production in Colombia. This South American country is the leading supplier of cocaine and heroin to the United States. The campaign has drawn increasing fire in recent weeks from critics who say the chemicals dropped from the planes are not only harmful to people, but are polluting one of the world's richest ecosystems. A judge in Bogota on July 27 ordered a temporary halt of the spraying in Amazonian Indian lands. It appears doubtful the Colombian government will jettison the sprayings nationwide. But, underscoring Washington's concern about the turn of events, U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson warned that a permanent halt could jeopardize U.S. aid. ''I have no doubt that many voices in the U.S. Congress would call for an end to assistance to Colombia,'' Patterson was quoted as saying in El Tiempo, Colombia's most widely read daily. The U.S. Embassy confirmed the comment was accurately quoted by the Bogota newspaper. Patterson did not elaborate on what assistance would be cut. Washington's $1.3 billion contribution to President Andres Pastrana's anti-drug offensive, dubbed Plan Colombia, is already in the pipeline. It is paying for dozens of Blackhawk and ''Super Huey'' helicopters to ferry troops to drug-producing regions controlled by Colombia's illegal armed groups. The rival groups, along with the government, are embroiled in a 37-year civil war fueled by the drug trade. The U.S. funds are also bankrolling social programs in Colombia. For some, the debate recalls Washington's ''big stick'' approach to Latin America of times past. In the respected Bogota newsmagazine Cambio, columnist Roberto Pombo alleged the sprayings were destroying the environment and impoverishing the country's peasant farmers, who have few or no viable alternatives to making a living other than growing drug crops. Pombo called the fumigations a ''failed campaign against drug traffickers, all by imperial order from the United States.'' However, Pastrana had sought the assistance, and a groundswell of public opinion against the fumigation offensive, slated to continue over at least the next three years, has not materialized. U.S. officials insist the herbicide, glyphosate, which is produced by the U.S. chemical company Monsanto, is safe. But the British company Imperial Chemical Industries confirmed Friday it has stopped supplying an additive used with the glyphosate, saying that use of the two agents together had not been tested. The crop dusters, many provided by the State Department and flown by American contractors, have blanketed 123,500 acres of cocaine-producing crops since the campaign was launched last December in southern Putumayo province, Colombia's cocaine heartland. Recent U.S. estimates showed 336,400 acres of coca, the main ingredient in cocaine, were being cultivated in Colombia. Colombian police say 15,300 acres were being used to grow poppy, from which heroin is made. Complete Title: Debate Sharpens on U.S.-Backed Drug Sprayings in Colombia Source: Associated PressAuthor: Michael Easterbrook, Associated PressPublished: August 5, 2001Copyright: 2001 Associated PressRelated Articles & Web Site:Colombia Drug War News Poison in Colombia Orange, All Over Again Articles - Glyphosate 
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Comment #9 posted by freedom fighter on August 07, 2001 at 19:26:36 PT
Drug and Pain-free ideology?
Thanks Kapt. for the linkI was very shocked. America have blood on their hands. These Bolivan women are far more braver than any normal american male. They sew their mouth shut because they want their rights? How can we, the true americans stop this? Stop someone from snorting the white line is just not attainable. When will it cease? These people did not have to suffer just because of some amerikan's who choose to abstain but feel so insecured that they have to impose their brand of drug and pain free ideology on someone else, especially on someone who happen to live so far away from this country. It is not the drug users. It never was about the drugs but the power of the few.I am not proud to call myself an american and I want that back. Yeah, the land of the free and the home of the brave does not have a nice ring anymore. Writing about it does not seem to help. Heck, my senators would not even listen. I have never seen so many human beings that suppose to hear but seem so deaf and blind in this country.I have not paid my taxes in years and I do not plan on giving one more red cent to this sickness. I am sure glad I did not pay the taxes. I refuse to be part of this. I do not know about you.Just when is it time for a Revolution?ff
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Comment #8 posted by Doug on August 06, 2001 at 10:05:48 PT
They Call It Democracy
Our policy in Bolivia, like that in Columbia and before that in Central America, is all the same. It is not the drugs so much that we hate -- though that is a good excuse, though their illegality is very handy for raising off-the-record money -- but the idea that some people might try to do things differently than the Americans want. It's all about control. But we like to call these evil deeds with good names, like Democracy, or Dignity, or Just Cause. The people on the receiving end of our "help" know what is going on, the truth is clear to them, but the truth is hidden from the people in the home country. The meida do a good job of hiding this truth, and why should we care about a bunch of Bolivians anyway, they'll just sell drugs to our teenagers?
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Comment #7 posted by Sudaca on August 06, 2001 at 08:47:27 PT
this is sick
smear campaign.. by narcotraffickers, including the people that have been sent to check on the spraying efforts, doctors, investigators from the Senate, groups of British.. which are leading to requests for UN monitoring of the spraying campaign. this discourse sounds suspiciously familiar..
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Comment #6 posted by kaptinemo on August 06, 2001 at 07:21:23 PT:
Colombia's not the only country being destroyed
DrugWarriors love to crow about what 'successes' they have achieved in their precious little way; look at Bolovia, they say. We wiped out coca production there; we can do it in Colombia!Yes, let's look at Bolovia, shall we?"For two decades, the United States has been waging its war on drugs in Bolivia as well as other South Americancountries, claiming that this will stop the use of drugs at home. The impact of this policy on poor women who depend on coca to earn a living has rarely been the concern of bureaucrats and drug "czars." But for the primarily indigenous people who grow and use coca for spiritual, medicinal, and social reasons, the drug wars have led to the destruction of a traditional crop and subjected coca farmers to draconian anti-drug laws."Until the 1980s, coca was sold mainly in local markets, for local use. But when illegal cocaine use soared in industrialized nations, farmers started to grow "excess coca." And the Bolivian government started to cut it down. Using money from international donors, the government promised to teach farmers how to grow alternative crops. But the poorly designed programs were overrun with corruption, and the money allocated for them has disappeared, with almost nothing to show for it.For years, farmers simply replanted coca after government troops destroyed the plants. Then, in 1997, Hugo Banzer Suarez, military ruler of Bolivia from 1971 to 1978, became president. With U.S. support, he introduced Plan Dignidad, (free transaltion: The Dignity Plan. Yes, 'dignity'. Read on and see what kind of 'dignity' the plan bestows)a five-year effort to get rid of illegal coca ( some was supposed to be allowed to remain, but in fact, almost all of it has been wiped out ). According to the Permanent Assembly of Human Rights of Cochabamba, 1,500 troops descended on the Chapare in 1998. "At night," says Zurita, "Jeeps with sirens blaring, full of soldiers, sweep into communities. If the troops find $100, a ring, or a new bicycle, they will accuse a woman of being a narcotrafficker." Rather like the Pol Pot regine in Cambodia was during the Killing Fields; if you even looked like you had any foreign influences (like wearing eyeglasses, for God's sake!), you were rounded up, worked to death, tortured or shot."Amanda Romero, a human rights specialist in Bogota, predicts that the effect of increasing the military presence in the Colombian countryside is likely to be much more lethal than in Bolivia. "To the complexity of an internal armed conflict that has lasted for 40 years, the U.S. decided to bring an aggressive counter-narcotics campaign," says Romero. "This will only worsen deteriorating conditions in Colombia." It already has in Bolivia. "There is a great deal of death," says Teofila Mollo, a coca farmer and community leader. "There is death from malnutrition and illness. Women can't take their children to the hospital for lack of money." There is also a permanent, undeclared state of siege, says Veronica Ramos, a Bolivian human rights worker with the Andean Information Network, which documents the impact of the drug wars. And "it is women who suffer the most aggression from troops." Chapare residents have accused troops of everything from beating women to raping them. "The armed forces feel the need to control the population through women," says Ramos. "After all, the women are a real political force." And this is what happens when you speak out against sucha staunch ally in the uS DrugWar:"In 1995, women farmers organized into unions parallel to the men's. The women became bold campaigners; they met for literacy classes and seminars on the law; they learned leadership skills and began speaking out, through demonstrations and blockades, against government repression and the eradication of their crops. Felipa Mamani, one of the early organizers, was shot by government troops when she led a march in 1995. "They shot directly at my leg," she says. Mamani lost her leg, but not her determination: she led the November 2000 demonstrations in a wheelchair. Those demonstrations were among several the farmers organized that year. Two months earlier, they had blocked Bolivia's major east-west highway for 27 days, calling for a halt to zero coca and starting what became a nationwide protest. The government response was fierce: in the Chapare, two civilians were killed, 78 wounded, 48 illegally detained, and 16 tortured, according to the Andean Information Network. (Later, five uniformed men and one soldier's wife were also found dead in the rain forest; coca farmers are on trial for the killings.) We are even exporting out 'exceptions' to our democratic process to nation already suffering from decades of bad examples of their own:"The impact of Plan Dignidad is also felt in the prisons...In Cochabamba alone, from 1995 to 2000, the female inmate population doubled; almost all of the women are there for drug-related offenses, many of them false, few of them seriously investigated. The women are put there under Law 1008, an anti-narcotics code that was signed in 1988 after the Reagan administration put pressure on the Bolivian government. The U.S. government continues to have a heavy hand in Bolivian jurisprudence: Bolivian prosecutors and drug police issue reports showing increased arrests in order to maintain and get more foreign aid."Law 1008 would be unconstitutional in the U.S. It assumes the accused are guilty until proven innocent, allows no right to a speedy trial, and greatly restricts the right to bail. It also allows for the increased police and military powers that have led to more violence. Many of the women in prison are innocent, says Edwin Claros, vice president of the Permanent Assembly of Human Rights. "There are hundreds of arrests in which the people had nothing to do with the crime," he says."And what are they forced to do while in prison?" Once in jail, it's very difficult to get out, even for minor offenses. The average drug trial takes five years, during which time most defendants languish in jail. Prisoners say you must have money or political pull to save yourself when you are accused. After all, they point out, it is mainly the poor who are in jail. "The Cochabamba women's prison, like many in Bolivia, is filled with the prisoners' youngest children. Mothers and children live often seven or eight in a small cell meant for one or two. Since the prison is overcrowded-built to hold 128 people, it now has nearly 600 crammed into it-cells are a rare and expensive commodity. A woman who has a cell but can no longer afford it may sell it to someone else and sleep in the courtyard, where those with little or no money live. The government officially gives each woman two Bolivianos ( about $.30 ) per day, which is barely enough to feed one person, and most women say they never know when or if they will receive the money, anyway. So to earn money for food and a bed, women cook meals or make sweaters and vests to sell to people outside the prison. Others have "stores," to sell necessities to other inmates. And above the central courtyard, wet laundry drips incessantly. So many women earn money washing the clothes of townspeople that those with the least seniority have to work during the night-and even then, they have to take turns at the sinks."Rather like US prisoners working for Unicorp.Yes, 'dignity'. And we pay for this monstrosity. With our tax dollars   
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Comment #5 posted by The Offspring on August 06, 2001 at 05:32:07 PT
What is going on?
What the hell does the American Government thinks it is doing. Blackmail Colombia. What ever happen to Democracy and freedom. Democracy is dead in America. It's been dieing for decades but I think the Bush Administration is putting the final nail in the Coffin. This has got to stop. Someone has to be held accountable when they find out what the spraying has done. Is CNN run by the government or something because there is not much news on this subject.
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Comment #4 posted by freedom fighter on August 05, 2001 at 22:44:51 PT
I checked the price on the street
The country's top anti-narcotics enforcer, meanwhile, is accusing drug traffickers who have lost of millions of dollars in profits of waging a smear campaign against Washington's $1.3 billion counterdrug offensive. Price of a gram of coke is still the same. If the accursed drug traffickers were losing millions, they would have raised the price. No?ff
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Comment #3 posted by lookinside on August 05, 2001 at 19:28:52 PT:
it's about time...kap..well said...and swampie...yoursolution may be the only choice available...the word must be spread...did you guys see my requestearlier today?
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Comment #2 posted by SWAMPIE on August 05, 2001 at 18:24:55 PT
As always,Kap,your wisdom is unsurpassed.What bothers me,though,is their idea that the drug trafficers are the ones who are spreading bad rumors about Roundup.They may not like it,but I think anyone who has used it will concur that it is a toxic chemical!Why could'nt the money we spend there be used for something constructive,i.e.feed the poor,schools,etc.....After appropriating the money,it needs to be spent wisely.What Total A$$holes!!!REVOLUTION,ANYONE????
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on August 05, 2001 at 17:12:09 PT:
"Sprayplane diplomacy"
A long time ago, it used to be that imperialist nations floated gunboats up and down the coasts of countries they wished to intimidate. The implied threat was that the target nation would receive more than a warning if they didn't come in line with the aggressor nation's policies.Well, those methods are deemed a little too forceful for Developed Nations to utilize. Not 'sensitive', don't you know?Instead, through addicting a nation to foreign aid, insinuating yourself into its' politics and economy, and eventually reducing that nation's sovereignty to a meaningless noise, the same aim is achieved. With little or no casualties on your side. Neat, ain't it?So, in the case of Colombia, instead of 'gunboat diplomacy' we have 'sprayplane diplomacy':"It appears doubtful the Colombian government will jettison the sprayings nationwide. But, underscoring Washington's concern about the turn of events, U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson warned that a permanent halt could jeopardize U.S. aid. ''I have no doubt that many voices in the U.S. Congress would call for an end to assistance to Colombia,'' Patterson was quoted as saying in El Tiempo, Colombia's most widely read daily. The U.S. Embassy confirmed the comment was accurately quoted by the Bogota newspaper.I've said this before: there's something very ugly happening in Colombia, that is only peripherally related to the DrugWar. Something deliberate. Something bald-facedly genocidal.Think about this friends: what did you have to eat today? Do you know where your next meal is coming from tomorrow?In a few months, those questions will not be academic for the Colombians; their food production capabilities are being reduced to effective zero by the spraying. Very soon, Colombia's farmers will not be able to feed Colombia's people. A nation that was once self-sufficient is being made a supplicant for food shipments from Uncle Sam.As was explained to me long ago, no place is more than three missed meals away from a revolution. The proof of that particular pudding was the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch; in Western Colombia, there were towns where people were rioting in the street because all food shipments had been delayed by bad or non-existent roads. Do you think the US intelligence apparatus in Colombia was unaware of these facts? There's no better way to control a nation than the threat of starvation. If a nation balks at your demands, then starve 'em out. A new government will be 'elected' post-haste, when its' populace realizes the old government is unable to feed it. And if that new government is a puppet to the nation that can feed it, well, they'll worry about that later; right now, their kids need food.This is what Patterson and her goons mean; they are not talking about the ‘sexy items’ like gunships. They are talking about the inevitable need for food shipments to replace what the Colombian farmers cannot produce because their fields are poisoned.A prediction: in 3 months time, we will begin to see in the news media whispers of reports of starvation amongst the campesinos. There will be loud calls for ‘humanitarian aid’. And who will accompany the aid shipments? Why, the good ol’ US military.Just like Somalia, children, exactly like Somalia. And if those soldiers are fired upon by Rebels? If they are killed? Then we’ll hear plenty of calls to 'intervene’ (as if we weren’t doing so already) to teach ‘Little Brown Brother’ a lesson…again.So, who needs gunboats anymore; a Thrush Commander sprayplane can do as much damage, only much more quietly
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