After increased pressure from its southern neighbor, Ecuador, the government of Colombia has announced a temporary halt to its controversial aerial spraying of coca and opium plants near the Ecuadorian border.
The practice has been derided from the beginning by environmentalists and human rights advocates. Since the aerial fumigation began in earnest in southern Colombia, peasant farmers have complained of adverse health effects, harm to livestock, and inaccurate spraying techniques which kill licit subsistence crops such as corn and yucca.
Because of the harm associated with the fumigation anti-drug strategy, also known as “Plan Colombia,” advocates hope this as a first step toward a permanent halting of aerial fumigation.
“Colombia‘s aerial eradication campaign is a particularly egregious case of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, who recently returned from Colombia. “One can only hope that the temporary halt will soon become permanent, saving Colombian citizens even more grief from the disastrous Plan Colombia.”