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COLOMBIA / ECUADOR
Border fumigation resumes
Latinamerica Press
12/21/2006
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Colombia’s Dec. 12 announcement that it has resumed the controversial aerial fumigation of coca crops along its border with Ecuador reignited the diplomatic row between the neighboring countries over the issue. Ecuador’s President-elect Rafael Correa told reporters in Buenos Aires that Colombia’s decision is "hostile" and that he will seek support to spot the fumigations internationally. Ecuador has also threatened to withdraw its ambassador to Colombia.

In January Colombia agreed to stop aerial fumigations, which have caused environmental and health damage to communities, in a 10-kilometer (six-mile) border buffer zone after Ecuador said the spray was killing crops on its side of the border. Colombia says it resumed spraying the herbicide because the area was becoming overrun with coca crops (LP, Dec. 17, 2003).

"We will continue speaking with countries in the region so that the regional bloc urges President [Álvaro Uribe] to stop these fumigations," said Correa.

Colombia’s opposition Democratic Pole — the second largest political bloc in the country — also criticized the government’s decision to resume coca spraying.

It is "inappropriate to change that decision in a unilateral manner as the Colombian government has done," party leaders, included defeated presidential candidate Carlos Gaviria, said in a statement, urging a "brotherly and direct dialogue" between the two countries.

Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Francisco Carrión complained that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which receives a lot of its income through drug-trafficking revenues, is also present along this border area.

"There is no presence of Colombian security forces in this area, only illegal groups, so it’s the Colombian government’s fault that these coca crops are spreading," he said.


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