Aerial Spraying to Resume in Colombia

Donald Trump has ordered the aerial fumigation of Colombian coca fields using the same controversial glyphosate herbicide employed in the past. The Latin American human rights organization WOLA is raising objections to more fumigation:

On February 10, the Colombian government said it planned to eradicate 130,000 hectares of coca this year, using techniques that will possibly include the spraying of herbicides from aircraft. […]

When assessing the wisdom of restarting aerial spraying, it’s also paramount to consider how this policy will impact Colombia’s obligations under international human rights law. The pursuit of drug control objectives does not relieve governments of their fundamental obligations to protect and promote human rights, including people’s rights to live in dignity, to be free from hunger, and to enjoy an adequate standard of living. […]

Many studies exist about the health and environmental risks associated with spraying of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide mixture that Colombia used in the past and proposes to use again … El Espectador reported last year on a Colombian government study that found the following:

“‘In humans, evidence of glyphosate exposure was considered as a risk factor for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, lymphomas, multiple myeloma, and miscarriages.’ In addition, it notes that ‘other outcomes reported as an adverse effect from exposure to glyphosate, with statistically significant estimates, were beta cell lymphoma and attention disorders and hyperactivity.’” […]

The original plan was to end the 50 year conflict that had cost 260,000 lives and to reintegrate more than 13,000 FARC revolutionaries back into peaceful society. Complicating the coca eradication program are dozens of killings of FARC fighters after a 2016 peace deal was entered into under former President Juan Manuel Santos. The human rights of Colombia’s most peaceful demonstrators are violated. Deaths of human rights activists are said to be 289 or 736 depending on who is asked. The murders weaken current Colombian President Duque’s prospects for future peace talks with guerrillas.

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