SEMANA, February 24, 2022

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The government would not be able to carry out aerial aspersion on illegal crops in 14 entire departments.

The National Agency for the Legal Defense of the Government (ANDJE) has filed a motion with the Constitutional Court to declare null and void the decision that halted the possible renewal of the forced eradication of illegal crops with glyphosate in this country.

ANDJE requests that the High Court hold its decision, issued last January 19, to be null and void and without effect. The decision banned renewing the use of glyphosate, as it interferes with the advancement of  the environmental management plan of the National Environmental Licensing Authority (ANLA).

Under the challenged decision, the government would not be able to carry out aerial aspersion of illegal crops in a total of 14 departments, which would include 104 municipalities.

We should recall that the Court’s decision indicated that the suspension of aerial eradication would last until the affected populations could have access to all possible information. However, it was learned by means of a civil rights action that the community involved would not be able to learn the entirety of the antinarcotics plan, so that would be a “but” in the motion for a declaration of nullity.

Another argument made by ANDJE in support of its motion, is that the government should guarantee that the national and international obligations in the war on drugs be complied with. In the same manner, it revealed that using glyphosate had made possible the eradication of 130,000 hectares of illegal crops between the years 2000 and 2014, so that the total of 180,000 such hectares had been reduced to 50,000.[1]

Nevertheless, and according to the new statistics revealed by the agency, coca plantings have now reached 220,000 hectares, which has generated a resurgence of the armed groups and of their financing

Good-bye to aerial fumigation with glyphosate

The war on illegal plantings in Colombia, which today has more than 200,000 hectares planted with coca leaves, is a “chess game” that has lasted nearly three decades and that, for now, is at checkmate. The aerial aspersion strategy has had to navigate opposition by critics that usually go to the Constitutional Court to put a stop to it.

At first, it turned out to be the most effective way to fight the increase in illegal plantings, and the government would like to go back to it, but that has been impossible. This week, the Constitutional Court once again suspended it. The Environmental Management Plan that ANLA had prepared for the eradication of illegal crops did not pass the Justices’ examination, particularly that of Justice Cristina Pardo, who was the author of the decision. She pointed out that “it’s not possible to conclude that the administrative environmental procedures have guaranteed the right to public participation.”

The card on the table that challenges the possibility, for now, of continuing with aerial aspersion is a civil rights action that was filed by a citizen, José Ilder Benavides. His principal argument is that, in Florencia, Caquetá, there was a public hearing that was virtual, and had insufficient participation by the communities in the area.

First of all, the Court ordered ANLA, the Interior Minister, and the National Police to, in a period of one year, which could be extended for six months more, carry out a process of prior consultation. A year that, undoubtedly, would mean a step back in the battle.

For that reason, the Court ordered that the prior consultation go forward. The real issue is that the government was left with its hands tied, because of the difficulties in carrying out this kind of consultation with 104 municipalities prioritized, so as to be able to renew the aspersion. The struggle is nothing new.

In 2015, the “banderillazo” (first blow) to aerial aspersion came from study of a World Health Organization (OMS in Spanish) report that described glyphosate as “probably cancer-inducing in humans.”

[1] These measurements are difficult to make with certainty, and are frequently in dispute.

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