Colombian Community Garden Fumigated

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Action Request Below

This alert was originally released by Jenzera.
Pacific Coast, Colombia-The Eperara Siapidaara People Condemn the Destruction of their Community Plots

On March 16, 2010 several anti-narcotics police planes sprayed with chemicals the communal gardens and plots of the Eperara Siapidaara women of the Joaquincito Indigenous reservation, in the Naya River near the township of Puerto Merizalde (located in the municipality of Buenaventura, Colombia). These plots are located within walking distance of the Casa Grande, a Siapidaara religious and ceremonial center. The planes also sprayed the plots of their Afro-Colombian sisters from the Santa Cruz township who have joined the Eperara women in developing an agro-ecological production project. This project seeks to expand alternatives to a growing illegal coca economy. The growth of illicit crops is disturbing Colombia’s Pacific coast rivers, and destroying traditional cultures, communal economies and sustainable ways of using environmental resources. The government disregarded the community’s peaceful claims and sprayed their crops with even greater intensity. Several women were looking to move to the health post of Puerto Merizalde for medical care.

Fumigation in the Naya River, one of the most important watersheds and biodiversity hotspots in the Colombian Pacific, are not new. The government has sprayed with glyphosate both illegal but mostly legal crops. The Organization of Blacks United from the Anchicayá River – ONUIRA reported that on September 7, 2009 residents from the lower Naya were also sprayed. Subsequently, on February 15, 2010 the communities of Juan Santos and Juan Nuñez in the lower Naya were sprayed. The government claims that its intention is to eradicate coca crops. However, residents deplore the intensity with which the operations are carried out, affecting food crops and people’s health, but little of the coca plantations.

Until recently, in the lower Naya River-inhabited by about 23,000 Afro-Colombians and 300 Eperara Siapidaara-areas planted with coca were minimal if nonexistent as demonstrated by a 2005 Socioeconomic Survey prepared by the Colombian Institute of Rural Development (INCODER) in a study conducted with the Inter-ethnic Territorial Union of the Naya (UTINAYA). In less than three years and following the violent interdiction of coca cultivation in southern departments such as Nariño and Putumayo, coca growers are invading the Pacific coast, including the Naya River. As the government succeeds in other regions, coca production is simply moving to new areas, destroying communities and environmental resources.

It is in this context that black and Eperara Siapidaara women developed their production strategy to defend communal economies based on the need for healthy and sufficient food. In other words, they sought to develop an economy that would curb the uprooting of the native population by a predatory and illegal coca economy. Their modest project defended cultural survival, native seeds and traditional agricultural techniques. The project also sought to empower the women who live from the mangroves. This was an inter-ethnic strategy that received the support of community organizations as well as of the region’s Interethnic School for Conflict Resolution.

The government who is even spraying the mangroves is destroying these ecological projects in one of the richest and most bio-diverse regions on the planet. And that in our opinion constitutes a crime against humanity. Although we condemn the presence of illegal crops in these, our territories, we also condemn the practice of fumigating our plots and communal gardens by a government intent on ending coca production at any cost.

CABILDO INDÍGENA EPERARA SIAPIDAARA DE JOAQUINCITO, Río Naya
ASOCIACIÓN DE CABILDOS INDÍGENAS DEL VALLE- región Pacífico, ACIVA-rP
PROCESO DE COMUNIDADES NEGRAS, PCN
PALENQUE EL CONGAL de Buenaventura
COLECTIVO DE TRABAJO JENZERA

Please refer to Jenzera for more information and photos of the region affected.

Urgent Action: The groups listed above urge you to send the following letter to the Colombian officials below. Additionally, Alliance for Global Justice urges you to send the second letter to US officials. Please copy and send these messages to show your support!

FRANCISCO SANTOS, Vicepresidencia de la República
comunicacionesvp@presidencia.gov.co

FABIO VALENCIA COSSIO, Ministro del Interior
atencionalcliente@mij.gov.co

CARLOS COSTA, Ministro de Medio Ambiente
correspondencia@minambiente.gov.co

Dear Sirs,

I am gravely concerned by the news of the March 16, 2010 aerial spraying with glisophate of the communal gardens and plots of the Eperara Siapidaara and Afro-Colombian women from the Joaquincito Indigenous reservation and the Santa Cruz township near Buenaventura, Valle. These facts are causing serious damage to the women’s crops and their agro-ecological project. The sprayings are also having a serious impact on the mangroves.For these reasons and in support of indigenous and Afro-Colombian women I reject these actions.

I am also making this situation known to the authorities of my country, because I do not agree that my country’s resources go to Colombia to destroy food crops, communities and valuable ecosystems such as mangroves.

As a citizen concerned about the human rights of all people in the world, especially of ethnic groups, and environmental health I am demanding:
1. The immediate end of all fumigations in indigenous reservations in general, and in Joaquincito in the Naya River in particular.
2. The implementation of urgent humanitarian measures for families affected by the spraying so that they can restore their land.
3. Security measures to prevent retaliation against communities that have reported these facts.
4. A report from the Colombian government noting that government authorities (Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Interior, etc..) were informed about these spraying operations.

I await your prompt response to all issues raised.

With Deep Concern,

Your Name
Your Country
Your Email Address


President Barack Obama

(Copy and paste here.)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
(Copy and paste on the State Department’s “Contact Us” email.)

To Whom It May Concern:

I am gravely concerned by the news of the March 16, 2010 aerial spraying of glisophate (commonly known as Round-Up) of the communal gardens and plots of the Eperara Siapidaara and Afro-Colombian women from the Joaquincito Indigenous reservation in Colombia. It has caused serious damage to the women’s crops and their agro-ecological project. The sprayings are also having a serious impact on the mangroves. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident, and is instead an ongoing problem for Colombia’s rural population. For these reasons and in support of indigenous and Afro-Colombian women I reject these actions.

Although I understand that this act was perpetrated by the Colombian government, I am writing you because know that our country’s funds go to support such actions. I do not want our country’s resources to go to Colombia to destroy food crops, communities and valuable ecosystems such as mangroves in support of a largely ineffective and violent drug war.

As a citizen concerned about the human rights of all people, I am encouraged to hear that President Obama’s proposed budget does not entail additional funding for Plan Colombia. I know that some Colombian officials are actively lobbying that it be included. I encourage our government to refuse to participate in the destruction of indigenous, Afro-Colombian and rural communities by declining to participate in Colombia’s ongoing internal conflicts.

I await your prompt response to all issues raised.

With Deep Concern,

Your Name
Your State, USA
Your Email Address

Please C.C. these groups in your emails to show your support: informepacíficocolombiano@gmail.com, jenzera@jenzera.org