SEMANA, April 13, 2021
(Translated by Eunice CSN Volunteer Translator)
Congress members from Colombia’s opposition parties have sent a communication to the Vice President of the United States, and to the U.S. Congress. It expresses their rejection of President Duque’s decision.
Opposition members of the Colombian Congress sent a letter to the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, to express their rejection of President Iván Duque’s Decree that gives the go-ahead to aerial aspersion of glyphosate on coca plantings. The communication is also directed to the President “pro tempore” of the Senate, Patrick Leahy, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
“By means of this technical document we want the record to reflect our rejection of the use of glyphosate, because of its limited effectiveness and its enormous social, economic, and ecological costs, not only for Colombia, but also for the United States,” states the letter.
In the document, they add that they are doing “a brief assessment of the current situation” of the implementation of the crop substitution program, which they believe has been “effective”. “The drug trafficking and the activities connected with that represent a risk to the physical integrity of the people, to social stability, to the governmental monopoly on the use of force, public order, to democracy and even to the environment,” they observe.
“We call upon the Congress and on the President of the United States to have this document be considered and taken into account in foreign policy decisions on Latin America, with respect to the war on drug trafficking,” stated Luis Fernando Velasco, Senator from the Liberal Party, and one of the signers of the letter.
They also say that, between the years 2000 and 2015, millions of hectares of coca were fumigated. “The real question is whether this investment of millions by the governments of the United States and Colombia has been effective in combating the problem of security and public health that the drug traffic represents,” they write.
They also mention the effects that aspersion would have on the environment, and that it would contribute to deforestation, in spite of the fact that the government has said that it will be implemented under all the environmental protocols and with the greatest accuracy.
“We ask that the United States Congress not support the resumption of fumigation with glyphosate as a mechanism for combating the plantings for illegal use in Colombia, and, on the contrary, to support the implementation of Point 4 of the Peace Agreement, which the Colombian government has defunded,” say the Members of the Congress.
They also mention Plan Colombia and give an account of the use of glyphosate in various regions of the country throughout the years. They argue that it has not worked, and they say it does appear that the illegal plantings have diminished with manual eradication.
Moreover, they admit that the increase in the production of cocaine in the country has been evident. “The success achieved in the reduction of coca plantings has not exactly translated into a diminution of the production of cocaine and its consumption,” they say.
Likewise, they are aware that the drug traffickers have managed to continue with the business, and to produce more hectares of coca and improve its profitability. Another of their arguments is in relation to the costs of aspersion, and they claim that manual eradication does not generate extra costs, as has already been shown.
“Requiring Colombia to resume fumigation of coca plantings is a waste of millions of dollars, in comparison with the economic muscle that this illegal market has in driving activities all over the country,” they say. They propose that the only solution is to take the campesinos’ labor away from the drug traffickers.
The also argue that the solution must be the substitution of crops, and they reiterate their support for what was included in the Agreement with the FARC in Havana. They also connect glyphosate with deforestation, stating that the increase in that environmental problem is connected to the increase in the illegal economies.
The letter is signed by Gustavo Bolívar as President of the Committee, and Feliciano Valencia and Iván Cepeda, as Vice Presidents. Also signing were Senators Luis Fernando Velasco, Gustavo Petro, Antonio Sanguino, Temístocles Ortega, Iván Marulanda, María José Pizarro, Armando Benedetti, Alexánder López, Guillermo García Realpe, Aída Avella, Jorge Londoño, and Julián Gall (Carlos Lozada).