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  • Campesinos protests in northwestern Colombia.

    Campesinos protests in northwestern Colombia. | Photo: EFE

Published 11 October 2018

The demand of farmers of Cucuta and El Zulia is to be included in the National Comprehensive Program for the Replacement of Illicit Use Crops.

Campesinos in Colombia set up roadblocks Thursday to protest against the forced eradication of crops and fumigation measures. The organizations indicated that inhabitants of Cucuta and El Zulia requested to be included in the program of substitution of illicit crops. The claim against eradication measures had been raised with the national government on several occasions.

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Coca farmers in several municipalities of Norte de Santander raised a claim to stop eradicating crops for illicit use. To protest against the same, Campesinos blocked Cucuta-Ocaña and Cucuta-Tibu roads.

The protesters belong to the National Coordination of Cultivators of Coca, Poppy and Marijuana, Coccam, and the Campesino Association of Catatumbo, Ascamcat.

The demand of farmers of Cucuta and El Zulia is to be included in the National Comprehensive Program for the Replacement of Illicit Use Crops, PNIS and to be able to voluntarily substitute crops. 

They are aiming to implement effective plans to make a voluntary replacement of crops that would allow them to make the transition to a legal economy.

The organizations requested an urgent meeting with the governor of Norte de Santander, William Villamizar, and with the national government which signed a peace agreement with former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) 2016 which would help involuntary substitution of coca farmers and fumigation with glyphosate was considered to be the least desirable.

Santos’ peace agreement with the FARC was supposed to provide coca farmers about US$400 a month for two years of coca-free farming followed by a one time $US3,000 lump sum to help them start a new crop or business.

However, his administration has hardly been able to keep up with the pledge. Neither has it been able to protect small coca farmers and activists who are being killed by paramilitaries hoping to grab their coca production and land.  

In 2015, Colombia halted aerial fumigation due to unintended contamination of legal crops and water sources. Despite that, in January the Colombian government resumed the use of the chemical in widespread fumigations.

Resuming fumigation also goes against the peace accords signed in 2016 between the FARC and the government of Colombia, which establishes that voluntary eradication in agreement with the communities involved would be favored over mandatory and coerced eradication methods.

“In Havana, they agreed on the cooperative substitution of crops as the first alternative, forced manual substitution as a second option, and fumigations as the least desirable. The government can’t change the order of the accords without FARC’s consent,” former Colombian President Ernesto Samper reminded Duque’s government.

"The need for a request for inclusion to the PNIS has been presented to the corresponding institutions in multiple meetings with the National, Departmental and Municipal Government, all with the purpose of seeking a dialogue, concerted and pertinent solution for our territories, but this request has been denied, " Coccam said in a statement.


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