Threats to the Embera-Chami community in Putumayo

The Colombia Support Network (CSN) has received first-hand information from the Embera-Chami community, the sister community of our Kansas City CSN chapter, from their location in Putumayo Department (province) in southern Colombia.

After meetings on September 5 and 19 this year between social, environmental, and worker organizations of Putumayo with the Ministers of Interior, Environment, Mines, Labor and Agriculture, important agreements were signed for the development of the Province. Among these agreements were commitments to 1) work in an organized manner on substitution for coca-growing; 2) review environmental permits granted for oil exploitation; and 3) advance social investment for the communities. All agreements were signed and commitments made, but they have not been implemented. For more information about the situation in Putumayo see the “Message to Public Opinion” of October 29, 2014 from the petroleum workers’ union, Sintrapetroputumayo, at the following link:

The Embera-Chami do not grow coca for the drug market, but in spite of this their food crops have been sprayed with glyphosate (Monsanto’s Round-Up Ultra) since October 7 of this year. Among the crops which have been fumigated by the government are plantains, corn, rice, and cassava. The fumigation has also damaged fruit trees and other trees whose wood the Embera-Chami use. This has left the three Embera-Chami communities in Putumayo on the verge of hunger. Even a plantation of pepper developed by a group of students, which was successfully marketed as a replacement for coca, was fumigated and thus ruined.

Glyphosate generates many physical diseases and conditions, and its destructive use has caused depression in the Embera-Chami communities, which have continuously demanded that the national government of Colombia obey the decision of the Constitutional Court in Judicial Auto 004/09 which calls for special protection for the indigenous communities.

Write to your Members of Congress and tell them that spraying of the coca –crop in Colombia has produced disastrous results for peasant and indigenous communities in Putumayo Province, particularly for the Embera- Chami communities, failing to seriously affect the total coca production in Colombia, and therefore the program should be terminated at once.

Write to the ministry of Interior :

Pedro Posada, Director of Indigenous Affairs ;

Minister of Environment :

Gabriel Vallejo :

US Ambassador to Colombia :

Kevin McGrath :

US Embassy Human Rights Section:

Adam Lenert :

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