INFOBAE[1], March 8, 2021

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The international agency sent a letter in December, expressing its concern because fumigation “is an attack on the Peace Agreement and is contrary to the orders of the Constitutional Court.” The Colombian Foreign Ministry responded that the UN agency is “prejudging”.

On last December 17 a group of  UN rapporteurs, sent a letter expressing their concern at the possibility that the Colombian government might renew the fumigation of illegal crops with glyphosate, a proposal that the Defense Ministry has defended at various times.

In the letter, the rapporteurs Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur for the situation of the human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur for the rights of the indigenous peoples, José Francisco Cali Tzay, along with others, argue that the decision would bring negative consequences for the Peace Agreement and would not respect the steps in the orders stipulated by the Court.

“It’s an attack on the Peace Agreement and contrary to what the Constitutional Court ordered with respect to the hierarchy of the strategies for the eradication of illegal crops,” they wrote.

In addition, they warned of the risk of consequences that it might bring to the environment and the violation of human rights.

“We would like to call the attention of His Excellency’s government to our concern about the intention of the Colombian government to reactivate the Program for Eradication of Illegal Crops through aerial aspersion of the herbicide glyphosate (PECIG) and the risk related to that for human rights and the environment,” the UN pointed out.

In spite of the tone used by the agency, the Colombian government responded with a letter that rejected the petition in a forceful tone. The answering letter was signed by Vice Minister Adriana Mejía.

“The urgent calls are only issued in the cases when the alleged violations require imperative measures giving rise to loss of human life, situations that place life in imminent or continuous danger that is very serious for the victims,” stated the document.

After that assertion, the response claimed that “Accordingly, in the name of the Colombian government, I am obliged to reject the Urgent Appeal made by the special proceedings, given that they do not meet the requirements established in the code of conduct that governs the performance of its mandate.”

The letter directed to the UN rapporteurs commented that the arguments made by the officials “are prejudging without any basis,” when they mentioned that the government had made decisions that do not comply with the requirements established by the Constitutional Court to renew the practice of fumigating.

The letter ended by reaffirming that “In view of the foregoing, and with the understanding that the Urgent Appeal does not meet what has been established in the legal framework that governs the performance of the representatives of the special procedures, as I have permitted myself to point out, I acknowledge receipt of the communication sent for the Special Proceedings, stating that in this instance, the government will abstain from formulating additional comments beyond those already explained.”

It’s worth emphasizing that this decision has not only been criticized by the international community, but also by many of the communities in which this mechanism for eradication has once again been implemented; they are not in agreement.

The residents of the places, such as Guaviare, have warned that this damages other crops, the environment, natural resources, and it affects the health of the farm workers, and probably will increase the violence against the people by the armed groups.

“This fumigation doesn’t only fall on the coca plants. It also is dispersed toward pastures, toward subsistence crops, toward the jungle, the stubble, and it kills everything. It’s like setting a fire and everything is ruined,” Pedro Pauna, a campesino leader from Guaviare, commented on Caracol radio news.

He also said that the aspersion of chemicals involves another risk: the contamination of the streams, part of the water system that feeds the ecosystems in the Chiribiquete Hills.

“The chemicals fall into the big rivers, like the Guayabero and the Ariari. The Guaviare River joins together some of the streams that collect all of that, and will be taking it to the Orinoco,” he complained.

[1] INFOBAE is a Colombian news portal.

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