CAQUETA DIOCESE REPORTS ON SITUATION THERE
THE SAGRADO CORAZON DE JESUS RECTORY, VICARIA DEL SUR
FLORENCIA DIOCESE – CAQUETA
TO THE INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES OF COOPERATION
TO THE CHURCH ORGANIZATIONS
TO THE NATIONAL AND DEPARTMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS
TO THE SOCIAL, ENVIRONMENTAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS
TO THE RURAL AND CITIZEN ORGANIZATIONS
TO THE VARIOUS COMMUNICATION MEDIA
The Sagrado Corazon de Jesus RECTORY, VICARIA DEL SUR, Florencia Diocese – Caqueta, informs the above organizations, the authorities and the general public of the following events that have taken place in the southwest part of Caqueta in the San Jose del Fragua municipality, 60 miles from the capital, Florencia, and of the effects of these on the rural population and rural neighborhoods in the south of Caqueta.
During October and November, 2007, and February and April, 2008, the national government, as part of its anti-drug program, carried out repeated aerial fumigations using glyphsate (roundup) on a large part of the Municipal area. These fumigations have caused severe damage to the legal crops.
The 27 hamlets that have been most affected by these fumigations are:
- Berlin, El Rosal, LaY, Palmeiras, El Sinai, El Topacio, El dDviso, El Portal Zabaleta, La Cristalina, Puerto Bello, La Alberto, Fraquita, El Jardin, Patio Bonito (Fumigated in October and November, 2007).
- La Primavera, El Portal Zabaleta, El Diviso, Buenos Aires, Resguardo el Portal, Los Andes, El Jardin, Patio Bonito, Zabaleta (March 2008).
- La Primavera, El Portal Zabaleta, El Diviso, Buenos Aires, Resguardo el Portal, Los Andes, La Cristalina, Puerto Bello, Costa Rica El Palmar, El Diamante, El Jardin (April, 2008).
- Monterrey, La Apz, La Esmeralda, Alto San Isidro, El Mirador. (March, 2008).
The government’s fumigations have affected the horses, the corn, banana and yucca crops, the fruit trees and private family orchards; they have harmed the domestic animals and contaminated the water. Some of these fumigated farms had no coca crops: Mr. Belisario Trivino, whose farm is in the Palmeiras hamlet, had none, but he was fumigated on three different occasions; in the Monterrey hamlet the fumigations completely demolished Mr.Gilberto Triana’s cocoa crops.
Many of both the primary and secondary crops that have been affected by these recent fumigations are the products of the San Jose del Fragua Rural Municipal Development Project which was implemented by Vicaria del Sur and financed by Misereor (Zentralstelle from Germany) and the Global Gift program of the Irish Agency Trocaire. Fumigations also took place in Belen, Albania and Morelia on cultivations that were the product of projects developed by SCIAF from Sweden, Trocaire from Ireland and Manos Unidas from Spain.
The VICARIA del Sur Diocese wishes to alert the above co-operating agencies and governments of these illegal government measures which are resulting in veritable assaults on the rural population and their livelihoods.
The fumigations violate legally established standards for the protection of the environment and human beings:
- bodies of water, legal crops, animals, mountains, areas close to villages and homes which house children and adults are being fumigated at an altitude of more than 50 meters.
- The same hamlets are being fumigated repeatedly – as much as three times in a six or seven month period.
- Crops that are being grown as an alternative to coca are also being fumigated: cocoa, coffee, sugar cane and minor crops.
- Livestock wells are also being fumigated.
Another harmful policy of the governmental anti-drug program is the manual eradication of crops. This involves the militarization of whole areas and results in frequent intimidation and abuses of the population such as the theft of their domestic animals and food crops by military personnel. To prevent them from denouncing these abuses, the victims are threatened with detention and the eradication of their coca crops.
The consequences of these governmental measures and the manner in which they are implemented are not only critical for the rural population but also for the inhabitants of rural neighborhoods and villages for whom these small farms are their main source of food.
These consequences are:
- economic crisis and food insecurity in the rural farms
- poverty and hunger for poor village families
- health problems, damage to the flora and fauna; general deterioration of the environment
- displacement of many families to urban areas following the loss of their crops
- the removal and replanting of illicit crops to higher areas near streams and the source of rivers
- the complete violation of the fundamental rights of people and families: the right to food , health, a healthy environment and work.
These consequences are in direct contradiction to the legal and constitutional norms which have been instituted in order to improve the quality of life.
The Palmeras, Bosque Bajo, La Pradera and La Paz hamlets in the San Jose municipality which are part of the national government program Guardabosques (Save the Forests) have even been fumigated.
The fumigations being carried out in the El Diamante, El Jardin, Los Andes and El Palmar hamlets located within the natural park, Indi Washi, AND ON THOSE WITHIN THE AMORTIGUACION ZONE OF THE PARK are even more critical. This is a national conservation area protected by resolution 0198 which was created on February 25, 2002.
Is this the way to protect the environment?
Farmers have denounced the fumigation of legal crops to the municipal magistrate, but no legal measures have been taken which would lead to a legal process in which the damage to their farms would be acknowledged. According to testimony from the magistrate in the municipality of San Jose de Fragua, that office has received a series of denouncements reporting damage to crops and illnesses among the population, particularly skin and respiratory problems. “The denouncements are received and sent to the anti-drug section, but no reply is ever received.”
Vicaria del Sur calls on the National Government to indemnify these farmers for the damage done to them and to enter into full and honest negotiations in order to put an end to the further violation of the rights of the population.
We call on the social, environmental and human rights organizations to speak out against these anti-drug measures which are only serving to create more poverty and displacements and are resulting in the destruction of natural resources and the militarization of entire areas.
We also call on the International Agencies to protest to the national government about the damage caused to projects financed by them and to urge the government to commit itself in future to desist from obstructing the successful realization of these projects.
Morelia June 12, 2008
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621