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Publisher warns about
impacts of Drug War
Back from Colombia, Robin Lloyd discusses new fumigation cycle
Toward Freedom publisher Robin Lloyd has returned from Colombia, South America, where she participated in a US delegation visiting indigenous areas and looking at ways to reduce the harm of the war on drugs.
On June 30, under intense pressure from the Clinton Administration, the Colombian government announced a new cycle of fumigation of 75,000 acres of coca fields, using a granular herbicide new to the region, Tebuthiuron, or 'Spike', which is immune to rain. New US UH-1H helicopters, delivered to Colombia in May and piloted by US nonmilitary personnel, will do the job. The helicopters have been fortified with special armor and anti-missile devices to protect them against guerilla groups active in the regions planned to be sprayed.
In Bogota, Lloyd interviewed Omayra Morales, who has testified before the UN on the concerns of small coca producers in the Amazonian region. Small producers are against cocaine trafficking, Morales said, but are forced to grow coca because no other crop yields a livable wage. Ms. Morales, her husband and four children had a 14-acre coca farm in Milleflores in the Amazonian River basin.
Under the US-sponsored program of fumigation of coca fields, her farm was sprayed many times with glyphosate ("Roundup"). Her children suffered from diarrhea and lost their hair from the impact of the poison. Morales has also been forced to disconnect her answering machine because death threats from unknown sources have been psychologically damaging to her children. She is a member of the Andean Council of Small Coca Farmers (CAPHC), which promotes a diversified range of traditional coca products: tea, body lotions, and medicines.
"US citizens don't realize what a futile process our tax dollars are currently funding in the Andean regions," says Robin Lloyd. "Fumigation is damaging to the inhabitants and the earth. And has it worked? No. Farmers simply move to other areas and cut down the rainforest to plant new crops of coca. We must listen to the voices of the farmers of the region, such as Ms. Morales, and devise a wiser process to limit the negative impact of narcotic substances."
Lloyd is working with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) to organize a US tour of women from Colombia and the US speaking on the negative impacts of the War on Drugs on women in both supply and demand countries. According to the US State Department's 1996 human rights report, Colombia doesn't meet the human rights conditions in Section 502(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act to qualify for US military assistance. Yet it's the top recipient of US antinarcotics-related military aid in this hemisphere. Lloyd also visited Mayor Gloria Cuartas of Apartado, in Colombia's northwest region, where drug baron Carlos Castana has funded vigilante groups that terrorize and displace Afro-Colombians and indigenous rural communities. Over 5000 people have been displaced since a campaign of violence began on February 28.
Lloyd has completed a 22 minute video "Gloria Cuartas and the Women of Colombia." To order, or for more information, contact Robin Llyod at 1-802-862-4929.
Source: Native Forest Network-ENA <firstname.lastname@example.org
July 21, 1997 Robin Lloyd Tel: 1- 802-862-4929