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Old 06-11-2007, 03:02 PM   #1
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You want terror?

Read this and then wonder why don't the Colombians and the rest of Latin Americans just go on and spray.... Florida Oranges

BOGOTA, Colombia, (Jun. 6, 2007) IPS/GIN - Coca crops expanded last
year in Colombia, despite the heavy herbicide spraying carried out
under Plan Colombia, according to a U.S. government report released

The spraying has been loudly protested by people in both Colombia
and border regions of Ecuador for destroying food crops and harming
the health of humans and animals.

"Coca will never disappear," said a woman sitting in a bus from
the Pacific port city of Buenaventura to Cali, the capital of the
western Colombian province of Valle del Cauca. The driver and
passengers sitting nearby nodded.

The passengers had ridden without speaking for most of the trip,
listening to music as the bus climbed the western flank of the
Andes mountains. The brief conversation occurred in the last 10
minutes of the trip, when the bus drove by a police station that
was destroyed by a bomb in April.

The passenger who started the conversation, a black woman who
appeared to be in her mid-20s, had not heard about the destruction
of the police station. She explained that she had been living for
a year in a remote jungle area in the southern province of Nari§o,
on the border with Ecuador.

She said that earlier in the day she had spent hours riding in a
speedboat on the Pacific Ocean to the port of Buenaventura, and
that she was carrying the fruits of a year of work -- not money,
but "merchandise."

In other words, it appears that she had traveled for hours in a
public bus carrying a shipment of drugs.

Before she was lost in the crowd, the woman mentioned that in the
area where she had been working, there were enormous quantities of
coca, the raw material of cocaine. Colombia is the world's top
producer of cocaine, and the United States is the world's leading
consumer market.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy's 2006
report backed up the woman's perception, reporting an 8 percent
increase in coca crops. It documented 13,000 more hectares of coca
in 2006 than in 2005, for a national total of 157,200 hectares.

The increase occurred despite the fact that roughly 213,700
hectares of coca were destroyed in 2006, mainly by spraying with
glyphosate, an herbicide, but also by hand, under the Plan Colombia
anti-drug and counterinsurgency strategy.

The U.S.-financed Plan Colombia has destroyed 946,000 hectares of
coca since 2000. The drug office explained the higher figures this
year by pointing out that the area surveyed in 2006 was 19 percent
larger than the previous year and that nearly all of the increase
in coca cultivation was found in the newly surveyed areas.

Since 2001, the Ecuadorian Inter-institutional Committee against
Fumigations has been studying Plan Colombia's "side effects" and
"collateral damages" to human health and food crops. The
interdisciplinary civil society group's reports have been cited by
the Ecuadorian government when it has demanded that the Colombian
government refrain from spraying within 10 kilometers of the
Ecuadorian border.

Colombia has announced that it is willing to pay compensation to
the Ecuadorian farmers who have been affected by the spraying. But
it is not yet clear whether that only includes indemnification for
lost food crops.

The Committee against Fumigations found that spraying of coca in
Colombia had impacted crops and human health in Ecuador at two,
five and 10 kilometers from the border. The group found evidence
of health problems such as respiratory and digestive ailments, skin
rashes and damages to the eyes.

"These four problems diminished the farther we got from the
border," said Dr. Adolfo Maldonado with the environmental group
Acci¢n Ecol¢gica, one of the 11 Ecuadorian nongovernmental
organizations that make up the Committee against Fumigations.

The umbrella group's first study found that a large number of
animals, mainly fish, had died. No one has specifically studied the
impact of the spraying in rivers and other water sources. "All of
the campesinos [peasant farmers] mentioned that a large number of
pregnant farm animals had miscarried," Maldonado said.

The second study compared the people on either side of the border.
The Committee against Fumigations found "a high level of stress"
among the Ecuadorian population, because the campesinos weren't
sure whether or not they should plant their crops, since the
government has not been able to get the Colombian authorities to
put a stop to the fumigations.

Meanwhile, "among the Colombian population what we found was an
extremely high level of depression. The people knew it was the
state that was doing this to them, and as a result there was no
chance of turning to any official body for help, so they felt
abandoned and neglected and felt the need to leave the area,"
Maldonado said.

The third study, conducted in 2003, carried out DNA testing among
the local population to determine the health impact of the
spraying, as part of an investigation by the Ecuadorian Ombudsman's

Those in charge of the study visited the area two weeks after the
spraying occurred and carried out DNA tests designed to reveal
genetic damages caused by chemical or other agents.

Samples were taken from 47 Colombian and Ecuadorian women who were
selected because they live along the border and do not come into
contact with pesticides in their work or other day-to-day
activities but were in the area when Plan Colombia planes sprayed
the glyphosate mix.

"We determined that 36 percent of the cells in the samples taken
from the women were damaged, on average. A normal level of genetic
damage in the population at large, whether urban or rural, is 4
percent, as was found in the control group of 25 women studied more
than 80 kilometers from the fumigated area, inside Ecuador,"
Maldonado said.

"That obviously means the risk of cancer, congenital malformations
in fetuses or miscarriages is extremely high, practically 800
percent higher than normal," the doctor observed.

Another study, carried out in early 2006, analyzed the impact of
the spraying on food crops. In the border area "there are extremely
high levels of malnutrition: 32 percent compared to 18 percent
among the population living 20 kilometers from the border,"
Maldonado said.

This fourth study covered 25 schools in Ecuador with more than
1,700 students, and discovered, besides the poor nutrition and
diets, "significant behavioral anomalies among the children." As
a result, the researchers called in a team of psychologists "to
find out what was happening."

"We found that 40 percent of the children were depressed and 46
percent had problems with self-esteem. We also found a 70 percent
reduction in learning abilities [a] terrible situation," he said.

The next step was to compare drawings by children in the schools
in the border region from different years. In the 2001 study, the
children showed an "impressive" capacity of observation when asked
to draw their impressions of the spraying.

[the children's drawings can be viewed here: http://laniel.free.fr/INDEXES/Graphi...s/Dessins.html ]
"They could describe the different effects [of fumigation] on a
cedar tree, a yucca plant, a banana tree," Maldonado said.

But two years later, when they were once again asked to make
drawings about the spraying, "the children began to show the
bloodshed. What stood out in the drawings were the shooting and
armed clashes. There was a major military presence -- airplanes
that practically filled the entire sheet of paper," he said.

In 2006, when the children were asked to draw a family, "we were
absolutely shocked and shaken," said Maldonado.

"First of all, they stopped using colors. They abandoned color.
And second, they stopped drawing mouths. They no longer drew
smiles. The only thing they put in were big open eyes, but no ears
or mouths. That is a reflection of the children's inability to
express what is happening," he said.

The psychologists summed up their findings "with a phrase that gave
us all shivers: they had never seen children with 'such low levels
of happiness.'"

One little boy, Diego Gonzaga, from the village of El C¢ndor near
the San Miguel River that marks the border, painted a pig lying
upside down and wrote: "My piggy died. I loved him very much. I was
going to buy my uniform to go to school. I ask whoever sees and
reads what is in my drawing to help me to be able to finish primary
school. There are no plants or animals left."

Next to the San Miguel River is a warning sign that reads, "River
polluted by Plan Colombia."

Farm animals "are the savings of the poor," Maldonado said. "The
boy spends all year raising his pig, sells it, and with that money
buys his uniform and school supplies. When the pig dies, the boy
says, 'now I have no way to go to school next year.'"

Ecuadorian campesinos living right along the border say they have
lost between 75 percent and 90 percent of their crops as a result
of the spraying across the border in Colombia. "This obviously has
a heavy effect on the financial situation of the border
population," the doctor said.

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