Colombian government decided to rescind the ban on aerial glyphosate spraying after US President Trump threatened to withdraw financial aid
Catholic bishops from the Colombian-Ecuadorian border have strongly rejected the use of aerial spraying of the herbicide glyphosate to eliminate coca crops.
The bishops condemned the decision announced by the Colombian Government to resume the aerial spraying of the herbicide glyphosate, given the negative after-effects it can bring about for human life and environment.
The bishops stressed that the coca cultivation "in many cases is a consequence of the abandonment which inhabitants of these regions are currently living in".
They considered that the government must seek "complementary mechanisms to give a more comprehensive response on this problem that affects our people".
On 8 June, defence minister Guillermo Botero announced that the government will resume aerial spraying with glyphosate herbicide as a strategy against the coca crop increase.
Botero reached his decision despite a World Health Organization (WHO) report published in 2015, which warned of the crop’s carcinogenic properties. It was this report that prompted former President Juan Manuel Santos to ban aerial fumigation that year, after the chemical had already been sprayed across 1,790,000 hectares of Colombian territory.
In 2017, the year a record 171,000 hectares of land were reported to be under coca cultivation in Colombia, US President Donald Trump began to pressure Colombia to resume the practice, in line with the nation’s goal to halve national coca cultivation acreage by 2023.
US concerns about Colombia’s rising production of coca crops have translated into threats to decertify Colombia as a partner in its war on drugs. This would mean an end to most US financial aid for Colombia under the Foreign Assistance Act, and the US would be able to vote against loans for Colombia from international lenders.
Although former president Santos resisted the threats, current president Duque – almost a year into his presidency – has conceded, asking judges to “modulate” their 2015 and 2017 rulings against fumigation.
Latin America Reports