Sean Donahue / Narco News – 2005-02-19 00:00:38
(February 17, 2005) — Last month, Colombian and US drug warriors opened a new front in the so-called war on drugs, in the western Colombian department of Chocó. With its border with Panama, its long pacific coastline, and its immense natural resources, the Chocó has been subjected to an aggressive ten-year campaign to seize the land from its current owners, mostly poor farmers of African and indigenous decent.
Narco News 2004 School of Authentic Journalism graduate Sean Donahue reports that after a decade of massacres by right-wing paramilitary forces in Chocó, driving many from their homes and fields, military planes have begun to dump toxic chemicals on supposed coca plantations. This conveniently destroys, at the same time, the legal crops grown by those who still live on these coveted lands.
— Dan Feder, Managing Editor, Narco News
“In 1991, the Colombian Constitution granted Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities collective title to their traditional lands. Rather than marking a victory in the struggle for land and freedom, however, the new law brought a wave of violence down on communities that dared to assert their rights….
“After a decade of massacres, Afro-Colombians now make up the majority of Colombia’s two million internal refugees. Paramilitary violence has followed them to the shantytowns outside Bogotá and Medellín, where death squads are trying to wipe out the survivors to prevent them from telling their stories and from fighting for their right to return to their homes.”
“The land is the real investment that wealthy Colombians and multinational corporations are interested in. Chocó’s geographical location is even more important than its resources.
The department borders Panama, and is being eyed by developers as the site for a system of wet and dry canals to replace the Panama Canal. It also has a crucial role to play in Uribe’s plans to build a gas pipeline to Panama, and to build a massive new electrical grid that would carry electricity from dams throughout Colombia to the US.
“Gold and timber companies will plunder the land for its resources first. Bio-prospectors might comb the forest for traditional herbal medicines that they can synthesize and patent.
And when the forests and the people are gone, Chocó’s role as the ecological corridor connecting South America to Central America will give way to its new role as the corridor that will allow gas and electricity to move north while goods move over land from the Atlantic to the Pacific.”
According to the statistics available, coca farming only accounts for about 500 acres in the Chocó. Nevertheless, the Colombian government, with guidance and equipment from the US, has launched a massive aerial assault, using chemicals that don’t distinguish between coca and other crops.
Read the entire report, at: http://www.narconews.com
Narco News is supported by:
The Fund for Authentic Journalism, P.O. Box 71051, Madison Heights, MI 48071 USA