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Asunto:[LEA-Venezuela] Protestan erradicacion de coca en colombia que mata la yuca, el ganado y contamina el agua
Fecha:Martes, 12 de Junio, 2001  21:24:27 (-0400)

13 de Junio 2001: Protesta de origen popular por erradicacion de coca en
colombia que ademas mata la yuca, el ganado y contamina el agua.

Un pueblo de 12.000 personas muy cerca de la frontera venezolana, se
pusieron agresivos al respecto....

Title:   Coca Farmers Protest Crop Eradication

Summary:     TIBU, Colombia (AP) -- A group of calloused and sunburned coca
farmers is protesting the U.S.-backed effort to eradicate drug crops in this
remote corner of northeast Colombia.

Source:  AP Online
Date:  06/13/2001 00:58
Price:  Free
Document Size:  Very Short (0481 words)
Document ID:  EA20010613180000044
Subject(s):  Central and South America

Author(s):  JUAN PABLO TORO, Associated Press Writer
Document Type:  Articles & General info



Coca Farmers Protest Crop Eradication


Story Filed: Wednesday, June 13, 2001 12:58 AM EDT

TIBU, Colombia (AP) -- A group of calloused and sunburned coca farmers is
protesting the U.S.-backed effort to eradicate drug crops in this remote
corner of northeast Colombia.

Some 3,500 farmers began gathering last week in this small town near the
Venezuela border. Frustrated by the lack of response from the government, on
Tuesday evening the protesters hurled firebombs and rocks at riot units, who
responded with tear gas. Two officers suffered minor injuries.

Businesses have closed in Tibu, a town of about 12,000, and residents have
hidden in their homes. The farmers vowed to remain until the government
sends a representative to hear their concerns.

It is the first grass-roots protest to turn violent since the $1.3 billion
U.S. aid initiative began last year, with mostly military support toward
eliminating Colombia's drug crops.

Farmers claim that in addition to eliminating crops of coca -- the raw
ingredient of cocaine -- the herbicide is also killing cattle and yucca
crops, and contaminating the water supply.

``We agree with manual eradication, without contaminating the environment
and without harming the farmers,'' said Nelson Flores, 26, a protest leader.

The government has sprayed herbicide from planes on nearly 5,000 acres of
the region's 17,000 acres of coca crops.

The aerial spraying is part of President Andres Pastrana's Plan Colombia, a
$7.5 billion program to eliminate narcotics production.

The protesters are camping in Tibu's sports stadium, hanging hammocks,
cooking out in the open and setting up a makeshift shelter to shield
themselves from frequent rain showers.

Over the weekend, the farmers rioted, looting stores, and burning the police
station where they believed some of the herbicides were being stored. The
blaze also destroyed the city fire station and the state telephone company
offices. They also attacked a store of chemicals being kept at the town's

``If the government doesn't want to come (meet with the farmers), we will
make them regret it,'' said Ricardo Arboleda, one of the protesters.

Many of the farmers wonder why the government is spraying in this region
while officials have agreed to a manual eradication program in Caqueta and
Putumayo states, on the border with Ecuador.

The chief of the anti-narcotics police, Gen. Gustavo Socha, blamed the
protests in Tibu on right-wing paramilitary groups. The paramilitaries took
over the region in May 1999, breaking 15 years of domination by leftist
guerrillas. Both groups finance their operations by taxing coca production.

The farmers deny they're backed by anyone.

Copyright © 2001 Associated Press Information Services, all rights reserved.

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