Colombia Anti-Drug Spraying Begins

Colombia Anti-Drug Spraying Begins
Posted by FoM on May 27, 2000 at 07:38:26 PT
By The Associated Press
Source: Las Vegas SUN
When police planes swooped down and sprayed herbicides over the fields outside this dusty little village, they dented more than the numbers of coca plants used to make cocaine.The following weekend, the number of prostitutes in town was way down, residents say. Their spendthrift young clients wouldn't have had a peso in their pockets.
Authorities have launched a major anti-drug offensive in this remote eastern region near the Venezuelan border -- fumigating the green fields and setting jungle cocaine laboratories on fire.The police strikes -- which in an 11-day span this month have destroyed 120 drug "kitchens" and sprayed 3,700 of the area's nearly 25,000 acres of coca -- will hit hard at a local economy that has come to depend on the illegal plantings.But some residents of La Gabarra are welcoming the offensive. They see it as a way out of a cycle of vice and violence that has overtaken their formerly quiet, pastoral home since the coca moved in."The only thing this plant has brought us is war," said Lina Carrero, whose shop in La Gabarra's main square could go bust if the local cash crop disappears.Once living off cattle ranching and crops like plantains and cacao, the Catatumbo region that includes La Gabarra has metamorphosed into Colombia's second-largest coca-growing area, after the leftist rebel-controlled south.It also has become one of the South American country's most violent places.The squat, shiny coca bushes began sprouting up in the area in the early 1990s, officials said. The crop expanded exponentially a few years ago, aided by a scarce government presence and armed gangs who protect the coca for a cut of the profits.When right-wing paramilitary militias moved in to the region, long a stronghold of leftist rebels, they left a trail of massacres and refugees.A paramilitary incursion in April left 21 people dead in Tibu, the township that includes La Gabarra. Massacres last August killed at least 51 people and sent nearly 3,000 frightened villagers fleeing into Venezuela.For many, as worrisome as the violence is the ethical breakdown the drug trade has wrought."There has been a transformation in values," said La Gabarra's Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Sady Castaneda. "Now what we have are anti-values, a culture of money by any means."Personifying the new decadent lifestyle, Castaneda said, are the estimated 20,000 coca-pickers known as "raspachines" who've came to eke out a living in the fields of Catatumbo.Many migrated from depressed regions where they worked on coffee and cotton estates. Most are bachelors who spend a good portion of their earnings on booze and women. They can make as much as $25 a day -- nearly five times the minimum wage.The cash influx, however, has driven prices of ordinary commodities through the roof. An egg in La Gabarra costs 50 cents, more than five times its price in the capital, Bogota.When officials came from Bogota to see the spraying last week, some residents asked why the government destroys crops, but doesn't bring jobs, education or security."We all live off of this," said Asdrubal Perez, a clothing-store owner who once farmed coca. "What are we going to do now?"The government is pledging to provide adjustment loans to coca farmers when its begins a major fumigation thrust planned for later this year in southern Colombia.But as he stood in a coca field in La Gabarra that had just been sprayed, Defense Minister Luis Ramirez warned people not to expect a handout."Before there was coca the people didn't get any aid," he said.La Gabarra, Colombia (AP) Published: May 27, 2000 Copyright 2000 Las Vegas SUN, Inc.Related Articles:Fungicidal Feds Control or Bio Warfare?
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Comment #2 posted by dddd on May 28, 2000 at 06:13:24 PT
This has got to be the one of the new entries in the Sick and Disgusting Hall of Fame.. Agent Orange,,,Paraquat,,nerve gas,,,Atomic bomb tests,,DDT,,,. I'm sure a complete list could fill a catolog thicker than a senators wallet after a visit from a lobbyist. Can you imagine how concerned these pilots are about accuracy of only spraying the "target crop"?,,I would compare it to the level of concern that has been shown by some of our "elected" officials/ criminals,to uphold and defend the constitution. "Ya think it's the end,,but it's only the beginning"(B. Marley)..............dddd
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Comment #1 posted by Dankhank on May 27, 2000 at 10:49:32 PT:
"Before there was coca the people didn't get any aid," he said.So???????????????Guess they found the aid, they could, sorta like Ho Chi Minh asking for aid from us after WWII and, not getting any, he went where he could to get the aid he needed.The politicians play, and the people take it in the keister, everytime ...Peace .....
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