Dusting of Colombian Crops Questioned 

Dusting of Colombian Crops Questioned 
Posted by FoM on August 21, 2001 at 06:55:02 PT
By Tod Robberson, The Dallas Morning News
Source: Dallas Morning News
The policy battles in Washington over the future of America's drug war probably were furthest from Sebastiana Jamioi's mind when she surveyed her withered crops last week, wondering how she would feed her family over the next year. The quick inventory was bleak. One acre of corn, dead. Half an acre of beans, dead. Half an acre of potatoes, dead. One-eighth of an acre of opium poppies, blossoming and thriving. "Everything we had for food is gone," she said. "That's all we had for this year's harvest." 
Mrs. Jamioi and hundreds of other Inga Indians in southwestern Nariņo province are paying a high price for their long-standing practice of planting small plots of opium poppy amid their subsistence crops. This month, U.S.-supplied crop-dusting planes, protected by U.S.-supplied helicopters, swooped down over Aponte for a morning of seemingly haphazard spraying of a U.S.-supplied herbicide. Prompted by a wave of complaints by peasant farmers across southern Colombia, the U.S. and Colombian legislatures are debating whether the spraying program should be curtailed or canceled, with devastating consequences for the counter-drug program known as Plan Colombia, U.S. officials warn. Spraying of Colombian crops questioned The aerial campaign against Aponte was the third such aerial eradication effort since November. It was unclear why the opium poppies, which provide the key ingredient for heroin, continue to survive all around Aponte, but Mrs. Jamioi and other residents said the lesson is clear: Grow more opium because the airplanes will come back to kill everything else. Residents say almost everything in sight was hit with herbicide when the aerial attack occurred two weeks ago, including food crops, livestock, children and a schoolhouse, along with almost every major water source used by the reservation's 6,000 inhabitants. Doctors say there has been a surge in patients with diarrhea, vomiting, skin rashes, respiratory ailments and even birth defects. The legislative debate focuses on the chemical herbicide glyphosate, known commercially as Roundup, which is being blamed for the widespread crop damage claimed by scores of towns and villages across southern Colombia. Proponents of glyphosate, including the U.S. State Department, insist that the chemical is harmless to humans and that its damage to the environment is minimal. But for a brief period this month, a Colombian judge ordered the spraying temporarily halted because of health and environmental concerns. That ruling has called into question the basis for a $1.5 billion U.S. investment in Plan Colombia. Most of the funding is for helicopters and hardware needed to protect eradication planes as they sweep across southern Colombia. Without the herbicide-spraying program, officials fear, Plan Colombia could disintegrate. "Fumigation is a key element of our policy under Plan Colombia," U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson told reporters. "If there were a halt to aerial fumigation, there would be an immediate, probably devastating, impact of U.S. support for Plan Colombia." Accusing the accusers U.S. and Colombian officials have gone so far as to suggest that drug traffickers or Colombia insurgents who support the drug trade are behind the wave of complaints and accusations. They say the health complaints sound particularly dubious, considering all the other environmental dangers that Colombian peasant farmers regularly face, including their use of agricultural fertilizers and pesticides that are banned in the United States. Glyphosate, widely used across the United States and Europe, is merely a scapegoat, they assert. "These reports have been largely based on unverified accounts provided by farmers whose illicit crops have been sprayed," the State Department said in statement. "Since their illegal livelihoods have been affected by the spraying, these persons do not offer objective information about the program." The statement added: "We believe that the illegal armed groups are the source of many of the complaints. These groups receive vast sums of money from narcotraffickers to protect illicit crops and therefore have a significant interest in maintaining opposition to the spray program." The implication is that people like Mrs. Jamioi might be aligned with one of Colombia's paramilitary or guerrilla groups because she complains about the loss of her food crops, said Francisco Angulo, regional director of the peace-advocacy group Redepaz. "This is very serious and very irresponsible," Mr. Angulo said. "In this country, under these conditions, to accuse people of being with one armed group or another is one of the most dangerous things you can do. It is like signing their death warrant." The Inga reservation, located at 9,000 feet above sea level, is a regular stopping point for guerrillas of the nation's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which both governments accuse of supporting the drug trade. "We are not guerrillas. We are not drug traffickers," insisted Livardo Tisoi, the reservation's governor. "We are trying to survive however we can. Why are the government planes attacking us?" Since November, an estimated 120,000 acres of the Colombian countryside have been sprayed with glyphosate. Both governments insist that the chemical is benign to humans and livestock and is widely used around the world. In the United States, for example, up to 48 million pounds of glyphosate are sprayed annually. Glyphosate "kills only opium and coca," a Colombian National Police brochure asserts. Brig. Gen. Gustavo Socha Salamanca, commander of Colombia's anti-narcotics police, said the assertion that legal crops and populated areas had been sprayed is "entirely untrue." It is virtually impossible for crop-dusters to attack anything but "industrial-sized" drug-crop fields of 6 acres or more, because the spraying is computer-guided, using satellite imagery, he said. "There is no possibility that legal crops can be hit." Safety concerns Environmental activist Elsa Nivia, a harsh critic of the spraying campaign, said that the chemicals being used in Colombia are a combination of glyphosate and an additive, Cosmo-flux, which increases the herbicide's toxicity levels fivefold. She charged that the two governments evaded the legally required testing and approval procedures and might have violated Colombian law when they adulterated glyphosate. The chief of Colombia's counternarcotics directorate, Gabriel Merchan, acknowledged that Cosmo-flux is being mixed with glyphosate to enhance the herbicide's effectiveness. He insisted the full chemical mixture had been tested and proved safe. A spokesman for Colombia's Environment Ministry, which must review and approve all agricultural chemicals before they are used, said the ministry neither tested nor approved the addition of Cosmo-flux for the eradication missions. Mr. Merchan said he agreed that more study was needed to determine whether the mixture of glyphosate with Cosmo-flux could be harmful to humans. Nevertheless, he said, the spraying will continue. "If we erroneously spray food crops or damage the livelihood of farmers, they have every right to file a complaint and seek compensation," Mr. Merchan said. But the kinds of health complaints being registered by Aponte residents as well as other sprayed areas of the country almost certainly are not being caused by the glyphosate mixture, he added. "It does not cause cancer. It does not cause birth defects. Mild skin rashes, yes, possibly. Those other illnesses are very far from reality," Mr. Merchan said. Dr. Doris Sarasty de Rosero, a hospital director in Pasto, the capital city of Nariņo, said she has seen too many cases of skin rashes and other problems, occurring too close to the times when heavy spraying occurs, for them to be mere coincidences. She said she could not be certain that there is a cause-and-effect relationship between glyphosate usage and the illnesses, "but unquestionably, this warrants further investigation" before more spraying missions occur. Ironically, the spraying appears to have damaged projects designed specifically to provide residents with alternative forms of income so they would not have to rely on opium cultivation. After the glyphosate spraying this month, contaminated river water filtered into a government-sponsored trout farm in the nearby village of Granadillo, nearly killing all the fish, said Amparo Narvaez, who lives next to the project. "We nearly lost everything," she said. "This doesn't make any sense. The government pays us to develop this project, then they send planes to destroy it." Note: U.S. says curtailment would devastate anti-drug effort.Recent State Department Strategy Report - Plan Colombia Dallas Morning News (TX)Author: Tod Robberson, The Dallas Morning NewsPublished: August 21, 2001Copyright: 2001 The Dallas Morning NewsWebsite: letterstoeditor dallasnews.comRelated Articles & Web Site:Colombia Drug War News U.S. Pilots in Colombia Say They're Not 'Rambo' Orange, All Over Again 
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Comment #25 posted by dddd on August 22, 2001 at 14:35:01 PT
worth seeing
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Comment #24 posted by Doug on August 22, 2001 at 09:53:57 PT
My Two Cents
Though with inflation that expression should be "My Two Dollars".Yes, the United States has replaced the Soviet Union in terms of repression, but the Soviet's role was always distorted by the America media and government propaganda. We all need a villian to point at and say, "If you don't behave, you'll turn out like those people." It is ironic that once the Soaviet Union fell, the United States rushed i to fill the void. As Michael Moore said, "One Evil Empire down, one to go."And yes, Truman set the stage for McCarthy. This is something few people are aware of, and it shows the lie to the belief that the Democrats are necessarily "better" than the Republicans. The case can also be made that Carter set the stage for Reagan (Chomsky has made this argument) and I think it's clear that Clinton set the stage for Bush II, just as Bush I/Reagan set the stage for Clinton. It really is like one party, the Corporate Party.And then there was the National Security Act of 1947 that was passed under Truman's administration, that set the stage for the cold war and the military-industrial complex to take over in the next few years.I'm sure a lot more than a few dozen people read this site. I don't remember the exact ratio between contributers and lurkers on web sites like this, though the figures do exist, but it is a fairly large number.
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Comment #23 posted by kaptinemo on August 22, 2001 at 04:24:52 PT:
Lehder, it was Herman Goering who said it
Surprising thing to come out of the mouth of the man who practically gutted the museums of Europe of their art treasures and collected them for himself.At gunpoint, of course.Rather like Georgie Too, willing to lock up someone and throw away the key - or throw the switch on the electric chair - for getting caught doing what he was doing.Got Coke? is not too strong a word to describe what is happening in Colombia...with his off-handed blessing. It's not just the campesinos getting drenched with organo-phosphates; it's the native peoples in the bush who are also catching Hell from this spraying. Between the Colombian army, the 'contractors', the paras, and the Rebels, they are being wiped out culturally as well as physically. Extinction can take many forms. But so long as the natives get wiped out and are no longer impeding the 'development' of the oil patches there, that's all right with him. No humans, no human right's abuse claimants.As for that girl? I am reminded of something that happened in 1990: at the same time two events around the world were taking place: the bloody (for the indigs) US invasion of Panama, and the Rumanian Revolution.History was being made before our eyes. The Warsaw Pact was falling apart before our eyes. The events millions had prayed for, for decades, were finally coming to pass. Meanwhile, at the same time one nation was freeing itself, another was being ground up under Uncle's boot-heel...ostensibly because it's leader was dabbling with drug trafficking. Untold thousands were dying as we watched talking heads blathering in cold, sterile tones about 'military action'. News flashes were being braodcast every few minutes on the Tube. And what did my roomie have to say about it? She was pissed.It was interrupting her soap operas.Ol' Albert Einstein was right when he said it was minorities within a population that foment change. Because the rest simply either haven't a clue...or they don't give a damn. Until, that is, they hear the jackboots kicking against their door. And by then it's way too late.
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Comment #22 posted by Rambler on August 22, 2001 at 03:48:20 PT
Shark attacks in U.S. last year: 51Shark attacks in U.S. this year: 29                                             Shark attacks in Florida last year: 34                                             Shark attacks in Florida this year: 22                                            Shark attacks worldwide last year: 79                                             Shark attacks worldwide this year: 40                                             [International Shark Attack File, University of Florida; Washington Post]
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Comment #21 posted by lookinside on August 21, 2001 at 21:58:05 PT:
a letter to the sacramento bee....
Dear sirs,I've subscribed to your newspaper nearly continuously formany years. I was a Bee carrier in my teens.Over the last few years, I've come to rely on the Internetfor more and more information.Your publication does not meet my expectations concerningthe real issues of our time.(1)The degradation of our Constitutional rights.(2)The United States' involvement in Columbia. Honestcoverage of "Plan Columbia". The damage that our country iscausing there with aerial spraying.(3)The real reasons for our building economic downturn. Itis my considered opinion that the people of the U.S. arescared. They have no faith in the current administration.(4)Recent foreign criticism of our country's policies.Your front page parrots the sensationalism seen every nighton television. Our "news" services are far more interestedin the bedroom antics of minor politicians and sensationalcrimes, such as the murders of the russian family. Thesestories are news. They do not deserve banner headlines. Butyou will have them on page A1 front and center. Day afterday after day.I believe that there is a "media blackout" of news that mayenlighten the American people about issues like the upturnin fuel prices. The corruption in our government. Ourcorrupt legal system. The United States' involvement inforeign countries and the pressure brought to bear to makethose countries bow to the U.S. will. What really happenedin our last presidential election. The death of a true twoparty system.In my opinion, you are failing in your duty as a source ofinformation relevent to our lives.Frank L. Cowsert Jr.
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Comment #20 posted by dddd on August 21, 2001 at 20:56:01 PT
The drugpig who offerred to stand in the cocafield during spraying was none other than Rand Beers.dddd
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Comment #19 posted by Charlie on August 21, 2001 at 19:37:33 PT
Visa versa
"Since their illegal livelihoods have been affected by the spraying, these persons do not offer objective information about the program." And on the other hand..."Since their legal livelihoods have been affected by the spraying, these persons do not offer objective information about the program." -------Fox News is the worst with all of the sound effects, it truely is bogus. And pointing to US thirst for global news, let's not forget the hard driven reporting that goes into the CNN Global 'Minute'...! What a joke.
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Comment #18 posted by Pontifex on August 21, 2001 at 18:44:49 PT:
How to keep debates and minds closed
Wow, Lehder, thanks for sharing Kissinger's succinct theory of professional punditry. Rather than try to control the outcome of the debate -- and risk confronting arguments that cannot be refuted -- it's much more effective to control the boundaries of the debate. Should we execute drug traffickers, or give them life sentences? Jail or "treatment"? Republican or Democrat? Bob Dole rather ineptly demonstrated this technique during the Oct. 16, 1996 presidential debate. "We're going to balance the budget, by the year 2000 the President wants to spend 20 percent more in the next six years, and I want to spend 14 percent more and give that 6 percent back to the people. Remember, it's your money; it's not his money." What Dole meant, of course, is "Remember, it's my money; it's not his money."When has the one-party system ever been so obvious?It's sad, Lehder, that the girl you met had such apparent contempt for education and reading. It's a typical outcome for victims of the government schools.Do 'dozens' of people read this site? It's pure conjecture based on the number of regular comments. But even if our circulation is that small, the average contributor to this site is very well informed and motivated and probably influences many other people's opinions. I guess we're aiming for the ripple effect.Although it would be a rare treat to get some pro-Drug War comments on here for a change. >=)
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Comment #17 posted by Lehder on August 21, 2001 at 17:55:16 PT
weirder, still, Ethan
I wrote down a word you used recently - anosmic, a good one, as in anosmia. a physician would know. everybody's anosmic, otherwise the stench of mendacity would have ended this war long ago.
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Comment #16 posted by Lehder on August 21, 2001 at 17:52:24 PT
yeah, Ethan, it's funny too.
At the bus stop not so long ago, with a bunch to read under my arm, a girl said to me, "You seem kinda old to be going to school, still." Then she told me, " Gee, I think the last time I read a book was in the third grade." I really feel sorry for these peoople, nothing to do but paint her nails and watch tv. It has a lot to do with our trouble. It's something the Libertarians mean to fix. George Bush doesn't read either; Harry Browne writes books, real ones too, not like Al Gore's. I'm going to skip reading clinton's ten million dollar book, tho I'm sure he can write his own. He really cheated us - he knew better. Out of 454 representatives, 100 senators, 50 governors I count one lame duck patriot. surely more among them read. where are the patriots? it's very disheartening. and how many read this bulletin board? I think Pontifex said "dozens." It's not enough. We gotta get the message on TV before we can teach 'em to read. yeah, books, freakish ain't they? weird.I'm sure you know the quote from some Nazi - "when I hear the word culture I pull back the safety catch on my revolver."
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Comment #15 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on August 21, 2001 at 17:38:38 PT:
You read books? How truly subversive!
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Comment #14 posted by Lehder on August 21, 2001 at 16:41:50 PT
yes, Pontifex
"You know the bounds I'm talking about: should wejail and rob drug users, or just sentence them to "treatment"?"Yes, this is what drug warriors call a debate. It's no debate at all, as you easily recognize. Either way, the drug war apparatus remains in place and grows. In similar vein, Henry Kissinger once explained how to become an "expert", one of those "talking heads" you see on TV getting paid big bucks to piss us off. You take a government policy, he said, and being careful not to say anything at all outside that policy, you make endless arguments about fine points and dinstictions all totally within the same stupid [my word] policy. You never challenge the basic attitude, you just talk endlessly about small distinctions within that attitude. Like, should we imprison or rehabilitate? It's all such crap. None of it is productive. It doesn't produce anything or lead anywhere.AMerica will wither, decline and fall if everybody has to always be politically correct. So far the only mainstream mention, and rare as it is, of the drug war is all in this vein - fine distinctions about how the war should go on.I'm reading a book about Joe McCarthy. It shows how it all started with Truman's rhetoric - something I was not aware of - about communism. Where Roosevelt, the book says, regarded the Soviet Union as a country with national interests that could be negotiated with and compromised with, Truman's rhetoric essentially rendered such policies impossible - either you were opposed to the destruction of our way of life and opposed to the SOviet Union or else you were a traitor. This set the stage for McCarthy and the sick witch hunts for communists in every corner of government. Even though maybe only 2 or 3 actual agents were actually ever unearthed, the mindless inquisitions and search for communists drove people crazy for years. If I get in the mood later I will put some quotes from this interesting book on our board. The attitudes were exactly the same as in our present drug war. 
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Comment #13 posted by Pontifex on August 21, 2001 at 15:13:19 PT:
Lehder, I agree with you 100%. Ours is a one-party system, and that party is the Authoritarians. Their control is so complete that only self-made independents (Gov. Ventura) and exceptionally courageous lame ducks (Gov. Johnson) dare to stray from the acceptable bounds of drug debate. You know the bounds I'm talking about: should we jail and rob drug users, or just sentence them to "treatment"?Digit, I agree that televised news -- really any news that is filtered by government agencies -- is necessarily incomplete and biased. The serious free thinker must triangulate the truth from several different sources, and at this the Internet excels. I will never give a dime to the New York Times or L.A. Times, but I can read their articles for free online. People who don't trust information on the net do so out of ignorance; they'll come around.But on this one point I disagree, and side with FoM. I think Scotland would be a better place if there were a bit more kilt-wearing and broadsword-wielding. :)dddd, you really have a hallucinogenic way of bringing things to life. I pity that poor nail.And to everybody, THIS IMPORTANT MESSAGE. I relish your comments as much as any piece of professional journalism. I don't always get a chance to respond or give thanks, but the analysis on this site is brilliant and I read just about everything. Thanks a ton for writing. And if your lonely, thought-provoking comment doesn't get a reply, rest assured that dozens -- perhaps more -- are reading it in silence and meditating on your thoughts.By the way, I missed a great piece of news. There was an article somewhere recently quoting some Drug Warrior who said that Roundup is so benign, he'd line up his family in a field right before it was sprayed.Did anyone catch this? I was stunned. Somebody needs to make him put up, or shut up. But it's not nice to harm innocents, so I would be satisfied to leave his family out of it and just see the drug warrior himself get sprayed. In fact, a Monsanto shower should be required training for all Columbian Drug War apologists.
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Comment #12 posted by Lehder on August 21, 2001 at 13:54:14 PT
are we having fun yet?
E. Johnson is speaking my mind too. The Soviet Union collapsed and has not recovered, it's nothing but rampant crime and disorder. It's economy collapsed long before the political collapse. People had to stand in line for hours just to get toilet paper. They stood in line for hours without even knowing what they would be able to buy at the end because they needed everything. That's where we're headed.And we've had another crash in the market today. Greenspan predicting many more layoffs, more people out of work.there will be fewer houses built, more people homeless, more people losing their mortgaged homes to the banks. It takes more than a drug war to make an economy, you drug warring shitheads. But you don't care at all what happens to the country or its people do you? as long as you get to exercise your hatred and collect your federal graft.
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Comment #11 posted by E. Johnson on August 21, 2001 at 13:09:04 PT
America is the new Soviet Union
Hey, hasn't anyone realized this yet?We've collapsed to a single party system on the War on Drugs, and drugs have become to American politicians what capitalism was to Soviet apparatchiks -- a demon to shake your fist at and use as an excuse to curtial freedoms and increase the state right to seize private property under the pretense of making people more safe and secure.There was virutally no difference between the Bush and Gore proposed Drug War during the campaign.Theoretically, our system is designed to offer choice.When the choice seems to have vanished -- it's time to worry.Ideological control and expropriation -- the two main activities of the Communist State, now perfectly adapted to the American War on Drugs.Hey, I'll bet those guys in the DEA actually imagine themselves as being devout anti-Communists. Isn't that a big laugh? Isn't that funny?Maybe it's not funny though. Maybe it's pathetic and frightening, maybe that's what it is.
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on August 21, 2001 at 12:04:56 PT
That was great! You sure didn't insult me and I'm disappointed that you don't run around in a kilt! I'm a quarter Scottish! LOL!
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Comment #9 posted by Digit on August 21, 2001 at 11:57:27 PT:
News? What News?