Communal Work to eradicate Coca
Communal Work (Minga) to Eradicate the Coca Plantations with Illicit Goals in the Collective Territory of the Yurumangui River
Municipio of Buenaventura
September 30, 2007
For centuries, Black communities have lived in the territory of the Pacific Region and have developed within the region a life project. Today they feel they are threatened by mega-projects, by monocultures like oil palm, and by the advance of illicit crops. These last are are the factors that currently constitute two of the greatest risks to territorial and environmental rights of the Afro-Colombians, and to biological and cultural diversity in this rich, important and strategic bioregion.
Conscious of the risk that the advance of illicit coca crops represent for the region, the Assembly of the Community Council of the Yurumangui River, carried out in 2000 as the highest authority there, made the decision not to allow planting or consumption of coca within the territory, and gave the organizational and delegated structures which are the Board of the Community Council, the territorial ethnic organization APONURY and the Process of Black Communities in Colombia (PCN) directives for the development of activities that would prevent the entrance of illicit coca plantings within the territory.
Despite this ruling and the efforts that have been realized, among which are the emitting of leaflets, soccer uniforms with messages about not planting or consuming coca, erecting some billboards, community workshops among others, in a hidden manner, and without the knowledge of the Board of the Community Council, persons who have lived a long time outside the community are “returning” with the goal of promoting these crops. That is why the beginning of these crops has been detected in the area of the lower zone of the river: La Dispensa, El Barranco and El Encanto.
The territory of the Region of the Biogeographic Pacific has always been a great school in which we all have the opportunity to learn from what happens in the different rivers and zones of the region. That is why the inhabitants of the Yurumnangui River know and we have learned with the sorrow experienced by other brothers and sisters of ours that:
- As the illicit plantings of coca advance, the government responds with fumigation, destroying the collectible food, and multiplying problems in health, access to potable water, environmental contamination and food crisis in the population.
- As the illicit plantings of coca advance, the territories become more attractive and tend towards the intensification of the armed conflict, and the presence of the paramilitaries, subversives, common criminals and the public security forces increases and the risks of disappearances, massacres and desplacement of the population increase.
- As the illicit plantings of coca advance, the risk of appropriation of collective territories increases. It’s known that for some time the government has been preparing legislation that permits the expropriation of collective territories that have these crops planted in them.
- As the illicit plantings of coca advance, makes it easier for colonizers to enter the territories, principally “paisas” (people from the coffee-growing departments) who promote these practices, which later ar assimilated by the natives
- As the illicit plantings of coca advance, prostitution and houses of prostitution proliferate, increasing the risk of spreading sexually transmitted diseases, among them AIDS, and increasing the loss of cultural values among the population.
- As the illicit plantings of coca advance, political organizational efforts are destroyed and the possibility of constructing a new Colombia based on the dreams, desires and costumes of the people is diminished. The cultural identity of the people is lost and life is destroyed.
- As the illicit plantings of coca advance, the national government responds with the palms, presenting them and imposing them as the only alternative to substitute for coca, and not carrying out the agreements established with the people living there for the mnanul and voluntary eradication [of the coca].
Therefore, the Board of the Commnity Council of the Yurumangui River, following the orders of the general Assembly, has decided to autonomously call for a Minga (collective work) to eradicate the illicit coca plantings in the collective territory of the Yurumangui River.
We invite all those who believe that cultural diversity and biodiversity have a chance in this territory of free men and women who have learned that resistance is the only possibility for advancing our dreams, to accompany us in this affirmation of community will and autonomy.
For a Life of Dignity, Hope and Liberty!
The Board of the Community Council of the Yurumangui River
The Process of Black Communities in Colombia (PCN)
For information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Brotherhood and Solidarity Network—Colombia