Pubdate: Wed, 25 Apr 2001
Source: Chapel Hill News (NC)
Copyright: 2001 Chapel Hill News
Author: Noreen Ordronneau

U.S. helps turn Colombia to desert

Vast swathes of southern Colombia now look like desert -- crops withered
away, the ground parched and brown, vegetation nowhere to be seen. One
hundred Witnesses for Peace traveled to Colombia in March to assess the
impact of U.S. military aid on Colombia. They reached the firm conclusion
that U.S. military aid and fumigation funding must stop. Last year, Congress
approved a $1.3 billion funding package for Colombia, mostly for the
security forces as well as for aerial fumigation of coca crops.

Plan Colombia is causing ecological destruction in the Amazon basin. This
year, tens of thousands of gallons of the toxic herbicide glyphosate is
being sprayed on coca plants, family farms, corn, yucca and banana fields,
community wells and rivers and the Amazon rainforest. This has had
disastrous effects on Amazon biodiversity, on legal crops and is leading
innocent families to starvation. Fumigation does not stop production of
coca, it merely moves it to another area of the Andes. As long as there is
demand here in the U.S., small subsistence farmers will produce coca leaves.

U.S. military aid to Colombia will not help the U.S. war on drugs. A 1994
Rand Corporation study found that drug treatment in the U.S. is 23 times
more cost effective than irradiation at the source. We must end the demand
for cocaine here in the U.S.

Urge your member of congress to vote no on further military aid to Colombia.
No to aerial fumigation of crops and yes for funds for drug treatment on
demand here in the U.S.

Noreen Ordronneau, Carrboro
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