From the State Assembly of Putumayo, Colombia
The State Assembly of Putumayo, Colombia has appealed to the US Department of State Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs to cease US support and financing to the Colombian government for the forced eradication of coca via the aerial spraying of glyphosate.
Aerial spraying has consistnely demonstrated an inherent risk of severely damaging the local biome. This impacts the prospect of growing alternative crops, which Colombian farmers depend on for their livelihoods. Through the aerial spraying of glyphosate, there is no sustainable path for the environment that farmers may utilize to transition away from producing coca.
The application of glyphosate causes long-term damage to all affected parts of the Amazon jungle. It poisons the soil; contaminates rivers; sickens livestock, amphibians and fish; and adversely impacts the region's biodiversity. At the human level, local residents within the fumigated areas have experienced a wide range of alarming health concerns. These range from skin conditions, eye damage, spontaneous abortions and complications in prenatal development.
By 2015, 242,065 of Putumayo’s 363,967 residents had experienced forced displacement from their homes, primarily fleeing areas affected by aerial spraying. During this same period, 1,790 small-hold farmers were forced to abandon their land entirely, due either to environmental damage or armed coercion, according to the National Information Network from Colombia’s National Victims Unit.
Governmental support for crop substitution, as well as protection from armed groups who profit off of the production of coca in the region, would better serve the interests of the farmers, the Colombian government, and the region's overall security. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, cultivators in Putumayo overwhelmingly support voluntary substitution away from coca, with 23,523 families agreeing to voluntarily eradiate 9,542 hectares of coca in exchange for support transitioning to legal livelihoods – the largest number of families from any department in Colombia. This negotiated, non-violent approach is the only sustainable path toward the true construction of peace in Putumayo.