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Daily News Archive
From March 13, 2001

Colombian Governors Protest U.S.-backed Aerial Herbicide Spraying

Four governors from Colombia have charged that American-supported aerial spraying of coca crops is jeopardizing the health and food supply of small-scale farmers, according to a New York Times article.

The United States is providing the Pastrana government with nearly $1 billion in mostly military aid for the aggressive assault on coca-growing regions that are dominated by leftist rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or right-wing parliamentary groups, is training three army battalions to protect the spray planes against rebels, and is furnishing combat helicopters and even some pilots for the task.

"Fumigation is not the solution," said Mr. Ivan Gerardo Guerrero, governor of Putumayo Province, which produces 60 percent of the nation's coca, who spoke for his fellow governors from the states of Narino, Cauca and Tolima. "It has a great defect. It doesn't really take into account the human being. All it cares about are satellite pictures." He added that intensified herbicide spraying might unintentionally drive the poorest farmers into the arms of drug traffickers by ruining their food crops and alienating them from their national government.