proves impact of fumigation on 11 projects for alternative development,"
Defensoría del Pueblo de Colombia, February 12, 2001
impact of fumigation on 11 projects for alternative development
February 12, 2001
Number 1 by the Delegate Ombudsman for Collective Rights and the Environment,
entitled: Fumigaciones y Proyectos de Desarrollo Alternativo en
el Putumayo (Fumigation and Alternative Development Projects in
Putumayo) dated February 9, 2001.
AND FURTHER CONSIDERING:
1. As set out in
detail in the above-referenced Ombudsman Report, which is attached hereto
and forms an integral part of this Resolution, representatives of the
indigenous communities Cofanes, Awa, Paeces, Sionas and Pastos which are
located in Putumayo have filed verbal and written complaints with the
Ombudsman Office regarding the impact on their lands of fumigation that
was carried out in December, 2000.
2. That the chemical
eradication activities affected, among others, the tribes and villages
of Santa Rosa de Guamuéz, Nueva Isla, Nuevo Horizonte, Tierra Linda,
the Buenavista and Cofán reserves, the Yarinal Reserve and the
Palestina indigenous community. This chemical eradication also affected
places such as El Hacha, Santa Helena, Piñuña Blanco, El
Tablero and several areas located along the Putumayo River.
3. That the Ombudsman
Office established an inter-institutional commission to go to the area,
verify the complaints filed by the community representatives, and evaluate
the impact of the fumigation, mainly in the lands where indigenous peoples
are located and where projects are being carried out in coordination and
financed by entities such as Plante, Corporación
para el Desarrollo Sostenible del Sur de la Amazonía / (Association
for Sustainable Development in the Southern Amazon) Corpoamazonía,
Unidades Municipales de Asistencia Técnica Agropecuaria
/ (Municipal Units for Technical Assistance to Agriculture and Fishing)
UMATAS, Empresa Colombiana de Petróleos ECOPETROL,
Red de Solidaridad Social and the United Nations.
4. That pursuant
to the above determination, the Commission carried out, among others,
the following activities:
4.1 Visits to reserves,
indigenous tribes, farms and plots belonging to peasants and local inhabitants,
to carry out a general evaluation of the effects of fumigation. During
these visits, the commission recorded declarations and complaints, gathered
information, took pictures and samples, and filmed videos. In Map No.
1, the area visited by the Inter-institutional Mission is set out and
referenced in Attachment 1. Map No. 2 indicates the projects that had
been the object of fumigation, and states the state entity that is financing
or supporting these projects. In the attached photographs one can see
the effects of fumigation on grazing fields, yucca, corn and plantain
crops, as well as the damage to the fish-raising tanks, and in general
to the natural vegetation.
4.2 Visits to the
projects organized under the Alternative Development Plan, by other state
entities, and by international organizations. In Table Number 1, there
is a brief description of the site and impact suffered by each project,
and these impacts are described in the Report in reference.
4.3 Recording complaints
regarding the Voluntary Eradication Pacts within the framework of the
Colombia Plan. These are found in the File prepared by the Delegate Ombudsman,
called Fumigation in Putumayo, December, 2000 February, 2001.
5. That the Ombudsman
Office reviewed the pacts and agreements that, since 1998, have been promoted
by the Plante, both with respect to indigenous peoples as well as peasant
farmers in the region. In addition, the Office reviewed a document issued
by the Plante: Building Social Pacts for Alternative Development
in nine municipalities in Putumayo State (Construcción
de Pactos Sociales de Desarrollo Alternativo, en nueve municipios del
Departamento del Putumayo). These pacts are part of the Colombia
6. That in the Ombudsman
Office a meeting was held with the National Director of Anti-Narcotics
and the Assistant Director of the Plante. At this meeting, the Ombudsman
set out the topics discussed in Report No. 1 by the Delegate Ombudsman
for Collective Rights and the Environment. He also mentioned the concern
by the Ombudsman Office due to the lack of coordinated management between
the various State entities with respect to the dusting operations in Putumayo.
7. That in support
of the foregoing, we submit the procedure on December 22nd, whereby the
Plante delivered 17 maps of the 41 projects under its management to the
National Department of Anti-narcotics. Moreover, we also mention a flight
over the area made by officials from the Anti-narcotics Police and the
Plante officials, at which time they identified the projects belonging
to the Plante. Nonetheless, this appeared not to be an obstacle to the
dusting activities that were carried out after this fly-over.
8. That during the
visit to this state, peasant farmers and local inhabitants expressed their
concern about the contradictory messages they have been receiving regarding
the fumigation. IN fact, while some government representatives involved
with the Colombia Plan activities have stated that this method of eradication
will not be used in places where negotiations are ongoing agreements have
been signed, other officials said that the fumigation will only cease
when the actual voluntary eradication agreements have been signed. This
position is in fact, confirmed by the events set out in the report.
9. That, in summary,
one can observe a great lack of coordination among the entities in charge
of the National Plan for the Fight against Drugs, Colombia 1998
2002, as well as between this group and those in charge of carrying out
the Colombia Plan.
10. That, despite
having received from the Director of the Anti-narcotic Police a communication
revealing the decision to remove the operative units in the south
of the country the Ombudsman Office is of the opinion that, based
on the current legislation in force, this decision may only be taken by
the National Anti-narcotics Council.
11. That the investigation
carried out by the Ombudsman Office has been limited to the actions of
fumigation by the State, and based on the verification undertaken, this
has affected crops and areas that were under agreements for crop substitution,
either signed agreements or pre-agreements (contract of intention), or
were the object of alternative development projects. There is no doubt
that the communities and peasant farmers committed to this policy to modify
certain patterns of production, once they had determined on an individual
basis the areas, type of crop to eradicate, project to be undertaken,
persons and communities involved, financing, and other aspects of this
complex negotiation between public authorities and private individuals,
had a legal interest in the matter which should have removed them from
the fumigation operations undertaken by the State.
The main obligation
or commitment assumed by the State in this case should have been its abstaining
to act, in this specific case meaning not fumigating the areas that were
the object of crop substitution, and in addition, it had promised to provide
financial support to ensure that other socioeconomic options could be
found to substitute those derived from the illegal economy.
The fumigation that
was carried out, despite the stipulations of the agreement, places the
State in the situation of a party who has breached a contract that it
entered into, and which it could not breach without sacrificing its word
of honor. Beyond the legal transgression, both the substitution agreements
and the pre-agreements had given rise to the collective belief that voluntary
assumption of eradication of the illegal crops would save the community
from aerial fumigation operations. The public behavior, in the cases mentioned
in this resolution, does not fulfill the reasonable expectations of the
peasant farmer communities who decided to sign the pacts.
As has been shown,
the fumigation mentioned in this resolution destroyed not only illegal
crops which were the target of manual eradication but also
other crops necessary for the subsistence of those who had signed the
pacts. Now, these persons and the communities are facing both the ruin
of their family economy as well as a serious hunger problem. Given the
precarious conditions of this group of people, the action by the State
can be seen as a violation of their right to subsistence, which translates
into a grave harm to the physical integrity and dignity of the families
and their members. The intention was to foster a policy that would strengthen
the community and move it away from marginality and illegality. However,
the arbitrary behavior described herein has produced the opposite effect
to the one desired.
The authorities should
immediately correct their acts. The application of public policy requires
diligence and coherence by the authorities responsible. Otherwise, the
desired goals will not be attained, and even if they are, it will be done
at the cost of the violation of the peoples human rights. According
to the information gathered by the Ombudsman Office, the administration
of the actions was not done in a coordinated and efficient manager by
the various State agencies. Instead of State unity, there was a contradiction
within the State, to the point that the result was a flagrant breach of
binding agreements and promises.
Given the violation
of human rights of the affected population, the State should spare no
effort to repair the damage caused by its actions, materially and otherwise.
The situation of the persons and communities affected also requires that
immediate action be taken to help them satisfy their basic needs, since
without this assistance, their survival may be seriously threatened.
12. That, finally,
taking into account the facts and background set out above, and the jurisdiction
of the Ombudsman Office, which is set out herein below:
- It is the function
of the Ombudsman to supervise the exercise and enjoyment of human rights,
pursuant to article 282 of the Colombian Constitution and Law 24 of 1992.
- It is the duty
of the Ombudsman to make recommendations and observations to the authorities
or individuals in the event of threats to or violation of human rights,
pursuant to article 9, paragraph 3 of Law 24 of 1992..
- It is the duty
of the Ombudsman to file regular reports on the results of investigations
and publicly denounce violations of human rights, according to the stipulations
set out in article 9, paragraph 22, Law 24 of 1992.
BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
1. IT IS RECOMMENDED
THAT within the next 48 hours following the issuance of this Resolution,
the National Anti-narcotics Council shall meet and order the immediate
suspension of the fumigation of illegal crops in Putumayo state and in
any other area of the country until:
- The National Department
of Anti-narcotics and the Anti-narcotic Police have available the geographic
references for all the projects financed by the Plante or by other national
and international institutions, whether part of the Colombia Plan or not,
where the objective of said plan is alternative development and the improvement
of socioeconomic, environmental, and cultural conditions of the population
living in the areas affected by the illegal crops.
- A determination
is taken regarding the treatment of the communities who have demonstrated
their intention to perform manual eradication, through the signing of
pre-agreements, or any other similar declaration, but where the process
of negotiation with the State has not yet finalized with the signing of
a Pacto de Erradicación Manual y Desarrollo Alternativo
or Pact for Manual Eradication and Alternative Development.
- The National Anti-narcotics
Council, in a plenary session, should approve the geographically referenced
information and agree not to fumigate any of the projects mentioned therein,
pursuant to the stipulations set out in article 3 of Resolution 005 of
2000, issued by this entity.
2. THE OMBUDSMAN
OFFICE EXHORTS the entities and organs responsible for the drafting and
execution of the National Plan for the Fight against Drugs, Colombia 1998
2002, to comply with the application of the coordinating mechanisms
set out in the Law, regulations and documentation of the Plan. In the
event these are insufficient, they should create whatever is necessary
to avoid contradictions and additional prejudice to the population.
3. THE OMBUDSMAN
OFFICE EXHORTS the entities and organs responsible for the drafting and
execution of the National Plan for the Fight against Drugs, Colombia 1998
2002, to coordinate their respective administrations to create
conditions that will encourage confidence in the communities, and particularly,
in terms of the negotiating processes that will foster manual eradication
of illegal crops and the putting into place of alternative development
4. THE OMBUDSMAN
OFFICE EXHORTS the National Anti-narcotics Council to demand the effective
fulfillment of the phase to identify areas of illegal crops as set out
in article 2 of Resolution No. 005 of 2000.
5. THE OMBUDSMAN
OFFICE EXHORTS the Inter-institutional Technical Committee, as stipulated
in article 6 of Resolution No. 005 of 2000, to define the procedures for
complaints presented regarding the fumigation carried out in Putumayo
since December, 2000.
6. THE OMBUDSMAN
OFFICE RECOMMENDS that a representative of the Presidential Plante program
be named as a member of the National Anti-narcotics Council, and therefore,
requests the respective regulatory changes be undertaken.
7. THE OMBUDSMAN
OFFICE EXHORTS the National Anti- narcotics Council, the National Anti-narcotics
Department and the Anti-narcotics Police to ensure respect for the right
of indigenous peoples to employ coca leaves for traditional purposes,
in that this plant is fundamental to their physical and cultural integrity,
and in this regard, to ensure that the fumigation does not prevent these
8. THE OMBUDSMAN
OFFICE URGES the Red de Solidaridad Social to immediately attend to the
nutritional needs of the Putumayo communities affected by the fumigation.
9. THE OMBUDSMAN
OFFICE URGES the Red de Solidaridad Social to encourage the active participation
of the indigenous authorities or their representatives in the Municipal
Committees to assist the Displaced Populations, and work together with
these representatives to develop a strategy for food distribution.
10. THE OMBUDSMAN
OFFICE REQUESTS the National Department of Indigenous Affairs under the
Ministry of the Interior to, as part of its mandate, call upon the national
government institutions responsible for servicing the indigenous communities
in Putumayo, to meet and draft comprehensive contingency plans, designed
to guarantee the right to life and physical integrity and protect the
collective rights of the population. In addition, this group should follow
up, monitor, and verify compliance with the measures adopted pursuant
to such plans.
11. THE OMBUDSMAN
OFFICE EXHORTS the National Government to define the necessary procedures
for the immediate indemnification of the communities affected by the dusting
operations in Putumayo carried out during the months of December and January.
12. THE OMBUDSMAN
OFFICE ORDERS the National Department of Legal Recourses of the Ombudsman
Office to file the relevant legal actions for the effective protection
of the rights of the indigenous communities in Putumayo where these have
been affected by the fumigation, to ensure the respective indemnification
of damages, unless the respective entities, within a reasonable time limit,
restore the rights that were infringed.
13. THE OMBUDSMAN
OFFICE ORDERS the Delegate Ombudsman for Collective Rights and the Environment
and the Delegate Ombudsman for Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Minorities
to follow up on this Resolution.
14. THE OMBUDSMAN
OFFICE SUBMITS a copy of this Resolution to the members of the National
Anti-narcotics Council, the Vice President of the Republic of Colombia,
the Councilor for Peaceful Coexistence and Citizens Safety, the
Ministry of the Interior, the Directors of the Colombia Plan, the Plante,
the Red de Solidaridad Social and the National Anti-narcotics Department.
15. THE OMBUDSMAN
OFFICE WILL INCLUDE this report and Resolution, as well as the results
of the follow-up thereto in its Annual Report, which will be presented
by the Ombudsman to the Colombian Congress.
As of February 21,
2001, this document was also available online at http://www.defensoria.org.co/resolucionambienteteng.htm