The Colombian government as hen spraying chemical herbicides on drug crops from low-flying planes for over two decades. Despite the failure of this practice to curb drug production, the United States began funding the massive aerial fumigation of coca and poppy crops in Colombia in 2000. The U.S. government has continued allocating millions of dollars to the “fumigations program.” To date, fumigations have been carried out in 21 of Colombia’s 32 provinces, yet coca cultivation continues to increase. The US Office of National Drug Control Policy reported that coca cultivation in 2005 covered 144,000 hectares, a level not seen since 2002. Moreover, there has been little effect on the price, purity, or availability of cocaine in the United States as a result of the operation. As these indicators demonstrate, the U.S.-supported fumigation program in Colombia has been a resounding failure.
The joint Colombian-US program has faced harsh criticism from various sectors. Small subsistence farmers complain that their licit crops, such as subsistence food crops, are being adversely affected by the aerial fumigations. Environmentalists are concerned because coca growers have cut down more primary forests – including in state parks – and have planted more coca in 72% more territory in 2005 than they did in 2000, prior to the fumigation campaign. Scientists report that the US State Department did not meet the legal requirements to determine the health impacts of aerial fumigation and social workers point to the displacement that the drug policy has caused, compounding the already high displacement level in Colombia... As a result of these concerns, the Colombian government’s human rights Ombudsman, the Comptroller General and many governors have called for an immediate end to fumigations.
The USOC is committed to promoting a significant reduction in U.S.-support for fumigation in Colombia and an eventual phase out of the practice in its entirety.
A gay pride flag flies in Bogota's Plaza Simon Bolivar. Photo courtesy of Proyecto Colombia Diversa.
The U.S. Office on Colombia is an independent non-profit organization, not affiliated with any political party, that seeks to educate U.S. policymakers, the media and the U.S. public about the impact of U.S. policy on Colombia.