Paramilitarization’s inexorable progress San José de Apartadó: Jesús Abad’s disturbing account
Mar 302005

In a href=""
target="_blank">press release dated March 25 (Good Friday), a document so
little-noticed that I only stumbled upon it this afternoon, the office of
the Drug Czar (White House Office of National Drug Control Policy) is forced
to admit some very bad news.

The release reveals that coca cultivation in Colombia did not decrease
in 2004, despite a record-high level of aerial herbicide fumigation

State Department estimates show a total of 114,000 hectares of coca planted
in Colombia at the end of last year – just 8,000 hectares less than Colombia
had in 1999, the year before Plan Colombia began. This is statistically about
the same as the 113,850 hectares measured in 2003.

Colombian coca cultivation in hectares, 1999-2004:


Total coca cultivation







Herbicide fumigation







Coca left over







Let’s just pause and consider these two numbers from the above table:

  • Total fumigation 1999-2004: 566,935 hectares (more than half the
    size of the state of Rhode Island).
  • Reduction in Colombian coca 1999-2004: 8,500 hectares.

That’s right: one hectare reduced for every 67 hectares sprayed.

Meanwhile, note that the total amount of Colombian land estimated to be under
coca cultivation – combining what was fumigated and what was “left over” – was
250,555 hectares – more than 2003 and just shy of the all-time high registered
in 2002.

The inescapable conclusion we can draw from this data: nearly a decade after
large-scale spraying began in Colombia, our fumigation program is not discouraging
Colombian peasants from growing coca

That should not surprise us when:

  • 85 percent of rural Colombia lives in poverty (less than about $3 per
  • due to government absence and neglect, vast stretches of rural Colombia
    are so isolated from the country’s economic centers that transportation costs
    make legal crops unprofitable;
  • those same neglected zones are host to armed groups that encourage coca-growing;
  • the United States’ $35 million or so per year for alternative development in coca-growing zones is nowhere near enough to keep up with the pace of eradication (by contrast,
    the United States spends over $200 million each year just to maintain helicopters
    and planes it has already given to Colombia’s security forces).

Under these “all-stick-and-no-carrot” conditions, replanting has been rapid.
Rather than seek alternatives that just don’t exist, growers are adapting
to eradication.

Elsewhere in the Andes, it’s still not clear how much coca was detected in
Bolivia and Peru last year. The State Department’s March 4 href="" target="_blank">International Narcotics
Control Strategy Report
indicated a slight drop for Bolivia – not
an increase, as the Drug Czar’s Good Friday press release claims. The March
4 report had no estimates for either Colombia or Peru, claiming that the numbers
were not yet ready. We have still seen no figures for Peru, though the Drug
Czar claims that there was some decrease. In January, however, the head of
Peru’s anti-drug agency (DEVIDA), Fernando Hurtado, told Reuters that Peruvian
coca cultivation probably rose in 2004 and is expected to increase again in

2 Responses to “The State Department’s new coca data”

  1. Paquita Says:

    I am working for a French NGO, our goal is to recuperate land, for the Kogi Indians living in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta – Colombia.
    The lands we bought, about 1.200 hectares since 1997, are on different thermic levels, so the Kogis can cultivate all they need.
    In 2000 we bought, La Luna, a land near Orinoco, with an access to the sea, The first time, since the Spanish invasion, the Kogis had a low land. They where so happy, full of hope.
    End of June 2004, La Luna became a natural reserve, a protected area…
    Fifteen days later, a plane from Dyncorp passed only once to fumigate La Luna and the community of Orinoco. That was enough to provoke a complete disaster.
    Some days ago, I saw the rushes of the second movie we make on the Kogis.
    La Luna is looking now like some places in Asia after the tsunami… I could not believe it.
    The Kogis took five years to regenerate the soil, now they have to wait five years to replant. Everything is contaminated, the streams are dry, no more trees to detain water.
    All the crops died, now the Kogis and the farmers are hungry…
    Tchendukua’s director in Santa Marta, organised some time ago with the Kogis and the peasants of Orinoco, the eradication of coca by hand.
    There was no coca in La Luna.
    In the movie there is an image of a Kogi chaman sitting in front of his house, in the middle of the devastation. His face look so sad, at one moment he his drying a tear on his face.
    This image is absolutly unbearable, it will remain in my memory for ever.
    Another Kogi is asking : How is it possible that the youngest brothers are acting with such brutality ?
    After the visit of Condolezza Rice in Colombia, it will be worse.
    From now they can spray on National Parks: La Macarena, El Catatumbo, La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, etc…
    To achieve that dirty job, Dyncorp is going to build a new aeral base.
    This mean, that the fumigation on La Luna on July 17th was completely illegal.
    Now, that it is permited, what is it going to be?
    Some people are asking :
    Why do you buy lands for the Kogis if you know that the AUC has taken two of them already ?
    Personaly, I am more afraid by the fumigations. They destroy and contaminate everything.
    A lot of indians in the Sierra, Kogis, Arsarios and Aruacos are starting to have health problems and there are more and more babies with genetic malformations.
    We know very well what are the consequences of the fumigations. In Vietnam, after 45 years, Agent Orange continues to cause terrible health problems, mainly on children.
    The new poisoned cocktail is called Agent Green. If you take the ingredients one by one, it don’t seem so dangerous. If you mix them, highly concentrated, it is a terrible biological weapon.
    Extract from an interview of Dr David Sands by the BBC. Dr Sands is an American scientist who invented one of the ingredients called EN-4:

    SANDS: This fungus is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a silver bullet… I have seen it take 99% of plants in a field. I think that’s incredible and I think people should know that this technology exists… This would be a green kind of warfare…
    BBC: Okay, but we are talking semantics here. You call it green warfare. Other people call it biological warfare. That is semantically correct, it is a biological warfare.
    SANDS: That can be right. It’s biological warfare or green warfare. I just want you to understand my opinion is it’s a good thing if it’s done to eradicate something that the entire world feels is noxious.

    The Dutch government donated 500.000 euros for the eradication of coca by hand in the Amazonas and the Sierra. A part of this donation is dedicated to plant substitution cultures.
    This takes time, Americans should wait till this program comes to an end, and try to do the same. It is cheaper and harmless for the biodiversity.

    Among various Indian tribes, the Kogis are the wonderful people that Geoges W. Bush, Condolezza Rice and Alvaro Uribe are eradicating. It is a genocide, very well organized, “In the name of God”, as always.
    Nothing new, since Columbus’ egg.
    The Nazis where exterminating the Jewish in gas rooms. In Colombia they are sending the gas from the air.
    The process is slower, the result will be the same.

    We have to call things by their name : it is a « CHEMICAL WAR « .
    The Sierra was declared biosphere of UNESCO and heritage of humanity.
    Where are the courageous American scientists that helped to stop the fumigations with Agent Orange in Vietnam in 1971?


  2. Paquita Says:

    I would like to add something to my previous comment.

    Who are these astounding people called the Kogi? While the world outside this last functioning pre-Columbian civilization has changed or “advanced” over the last four hundred years, Kogi society has not. It is both ancient and modern. It is also astonishingly evolved in ways that are essential to the world’s understanding of itself. For this reason, I have chosen this tiny society to represent the South American continent, to the exclusion of other admittedly rich and far better-known cultural traditions.
    T.C Mac Luhan – «THE WAY OF THE EARTH»

    Those are the wonderful people that Geoges W. Bush, Condolezza Rice and Alvaro Uribe want to assassinate. It is a genocide, very well organized, “In the name of God” as always.
    The Nazis where exterminated the Jewish in gas rooms.
    Dyncorp is sending the gas from above.
    The process is slower, the result will be the same. It is even worse because they are killing the biodiversity also.
    The National Parks that Dyncorp is allowed to fumigate now are :
    La Macarena, el Catatumbo, Park Tayrona and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
    That means that the fumigation of La Luna on July 17th was totally illegal.
    I am really worried, what is it going to be now?
    The Sierra was declared biosphere of UNESCO and heritage of humanity.
    Where are the courageous American scientists that helped to stop the fumigations with Agent Orange in Vietnam in 1971?

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