Since July 2000, the U.S. government has spent over 2 billion dollars to fund an anti-drug program aimed at eradicating cocoa and poppy production in Colombia. The goal of Plan Colombia is to reduce cocao and poppy production by half by 2005. In a two year period from December 2000 to December 2002, U.S. contractors and Colombian drug authorities sprayed 628,828 acres of Colombia with a potent herbicide. A milder version of this glyphosate poison is sold in the U.S. under the brand name Round-up weed killer. This fumigation is done from airplanes which often have to fly higher than recommended when spraying due to risks of being shot at. Spray drift often results in unintended damage and any plant life sprayed by this herbicide dies within several days.

Often times, a subsistence farmer’s entire food crop is killed and in many cases, no cocoa plants were present. Damage to people, livestock and wildlife have all been documented. Colombia is covered by the fertile and biodiverse rainforest, which harbors untold numbers of wildlife species. After having all their crops killed, many subsistence farmers in Colombia go further into the rainforest to clear more land, whereby killing and displacing more wildlife. Clearly this program is not working; a study released in 2001 by United Nations international Drug Program and the Colombian National Drug Control Efforts reported that despite fumigation cocoa production had jumped by 60%.

Check The Latin America Working Group’s website at or Witness for Peace at for more information.

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