EU Plans To Check Aerial Drug-Spraying in Colombia

EU Plans To Check Aerial Drug-Spraying in Colombia
Posted by FoM on March 14, 2001 at 20:57:48 PT
By James Wilson 
Source: Financial Times 
A group of European countries is proposing to introduce international monitoring to resolve controversy over Colombia's programme of aerial crop-spraying aimed at destroying illegal drug cultivation. Mo Mowlam, the British minister with responsibility for drugs policy, said on a visit to Colombia this week that Britain was supporting plans to put a monitoring scheme in place. 
Spraying of coca with herbicide is an important element of US-backed anti-drugs policy in Colombia, and since December has been directed at more than 30,000 hectares of the illegal crop, which is used to make cocaine. However, the policy has sparked health fears among local peasants and concern for the environment, as well as allegations that farmers are suffering hardship because legal crops are also being destroyed. Internationally backed verification, it is suggested, could enjoy more credibility than checks conducted by the US or Colombian governments. Ms Mowlam said verification of the spraying, under the auspices of the UN and the Pan-American Health Organisation, would include checks on what chemicals were being used. A second stage of monitoring would entail on-the-ground scrutiny of spraying results. "The aim is to make sure that information gets out," said Ms Mowlam. Britain would contribute Dollars 100,000 (Pounds 68,000) to the programme. This week US officials defended their use of herbicide spraying, while state governors from southern Colombia said the fumigation policy in the region was causing hardship. Speaking to drug-growing peasants in Putumayo, the focus of the fumigation effort, Ms Mowlam said she hoped the European Union could provide more aid. "I am desperate to help you. But I do not want to promise what I can't deliver," she told community representatives, who have pledged to tear up coca crops in return for government assistance and a promise their lands will not be sprayed with herbicide. The EU pledged Euros 105m (Pounds 67m) last year for Colombia and member countries have also pledged bilateral contributions. Javier Solana, EU foreign policy chief, also visiting Colombia this week, said the EU wanted to give "the finishing touches" to its aid plans at a meeting planned for the end of April in Brussels. "It will undoubtedly be a substantial amount of assistance," Mr Solana said. Colombia's growing drug production and rising fears for its stability have raised its profile as a foreign policy issue for Europe. However, the EU last year damped Colombia's hopes of more than Dollars 1bn in international aid, to accompany Dollars 1.3bn of US emergency aid. Source: Financial Times (UK)Author: James Wilson Published: Wednesday, 14 March 2001 Copyright: The Financial Times Limited 2001 Address: 1 Southwark Bridge, London, SE1 9HL, UK Fax: +44 171 873 3922 Contact: letters.editor Website: Related Articles:Colombian Governors Protest U.S.-Backed Spraying To Continue Anti-Drug Sprays Articles - Plan Colombia
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Comment #2 posted by Lehder on March 15, 2001 at 06:45:04 PT
a welcome trend
>>Internationally backed verification, it is suggested, could enjoy more credibility than checks conducted by the US or Colombian governments.Just as the "United States" has often entered Latin America to oversee elections and prevent their corruption, so now must the Europeans enter South America to obtain accurate reports of destruction which is suppressed by U.S. government and media.>>Ms Mowlam said verification of the spraying, under the auspices of the UN and the Pan-American Health Organisation, would include checks on what chemicals were being used. It's bad enough that Europeans cannot obtain information about the American drug wars in Colombia and Ecuador from American sources already in place, and their expression of a need to be present to verify simple statements of fact such as the names of the chemicals being used shows how U.S. government has come to be regarded as, simply, a liar and definitely not to be trusted even to report the simplest of facts. This involvement of Europe as an observer is most welcome. First, the more adventurous European reporters will obtain photos of any downed helicopters as well as the floral carnage they dispense. So accurate reports will be available in Europe even if they are suppressed in the U.S. Second, along with the legalization of drugs in Uruguay and Switzerland and a tempering of the drug war in many other countries, this more direct, even confrontational, defiance of U.S. propaganda and warfare shows how the U.S. policies are more and more regarded as the bizarre and mendacious perversions that they indeed are.As the U.S. continues with its public self-mutilation with a sick and twisted "war on drugs", its influence and credibility in all areas is rightly diminished. The rest of the world is realizing that it really does not want our "war on drugs". Even though the drug war may be intensified in the U.S. - even as its rhetoric changes from "prison" to "[forced]treatment" - much of the world has had enough and this trend will gain in momentum. As well as loss of influence and respect, the U.S., as a result of its own foolish self destruction over issues of bigotry, will also decline in economic and military power with respect to sane societies. It is the height of foolishness and arrogance to imagine that the U.S. can pay such a high price in wealth and in human life and ambition year after year without penalty. The U.S. government is doing to itself precisely what it does to drug users: it isolates, marginalizes, trivializes and disenfranchises them. Soon, the U.S. government will find no more respect in the world than a bully cop would find at Woodstock. The U.S. government "war on drugs" is being seen by the world, finally, as truly clueless and stupid.Totalitarian movements in full sway end with the defeat of the offending armies on their own soil: they are too self-absorbed in their own bigotry, too divorced from reality to end otherwise. This may seem unthinkable in the U.S. drug war, but it is in fact inevitable if the government is not brought to reason. 
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Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on March 15, 2001 at 05:26:58 PT:
Amerikan Backlash
Watch carefully, girls and boys, and you will subsequently see Amerika lunge like a pit bull in response to this EU effort to muzzle its clandestine ecological warfare.
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