Devastation of Civilian Life in South America Looks
Like Ground Clearing and Depopulation on Behalf of
the Oil Companies
пїЅ Burning Chemicals Produce Same Gas Used in Nazi Death Camps
THE PENTAGON'S SHELL GAME
the hard drug trade, ending a 35 year-old civil war,
eliminating human rights abuses and returning political
stability to one of the oldest democracies in the Americas all
sound like good ideas, but the bottom line in Plan Colombia has
more to do with big business, and particularly the
oil business, than any of the above.
Gorman пїЅ Special to From The Wilderness
earlier version of this story was published in The
Fort Worth Weekly on March
2003, From The Wilderness Publications, www.fromthewilderness.com.
All rights reserved. THIS IS A SUBSCRIBER-ONLY STORY
AND MAY NOT BE POSTED ON A WEB SITE WITHOUT EXPRESS WRITTEN
PERMISSION. Contact [email protected]. This story may be redistributed,
circulated or copied for non-profit purposes only.]
2003, 0100 PST (FTW) -- "On the worst days, there are sometimes more than 30 of them," she says. пїЅThey
come in with nothing but their muchilas, backpacks.
TheyпїЅve left everything to get out of Colombia. Or even worse, they come from our own border here
in Ecuador. They are sick. Some have sores and rashes. They can't
breathe; they complain their joints ache or that
they can no longer see clearly. No one believes us
but that doesnпїЅt mean it isnпїЅt true."
The woman paused.
Her name is Sister Carmen Rosa Perez and she is a nun
working at the Iglesia Miguel de Sucumbios in Lago
Agria, the largest city in Sucumbios, one of the districts
that fronts the Putumayo river. Across the river is the Colombian province of Putumayo, a remote region in northwest Amazonia that has become the center
of both Bill ClintonпїЅs Plan Colombia and George BushпїЅs expanded Andean Initiative.пїЅ Sister
CarmenпїЅs job since October, 2000 has been to see to
the refugees from ColombiaпїЅs raging civil war and get them properly registered.
In two years she and the other nuns at the church have
registered 3,676 refugees of the combat. The vast majority
has come from Colombia, to escape the violence of the right wing paramilitaries,
the AUC, the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia, the FARC, or the Colombian military. But
in the past several months, she says, there are more
and more Ecuadorians passing through the church as
well. They come because they have been brutalized,
either by the conflict spilling across the river that
separates the two countries, or by the loss of their
crops to the defoliation that plays such a key part
of Plan Colombia.
they came to escape the violence, but now they mostly
come to try to find work and food to feed their families.
The spraying has killed all their crops, all their animals, even
the animals of the forest are gone."
Business of Plan Colombia
When Bill Clinton unveiled
Plan Colombia in late 1999, its stated goals included
eradicating the coca and opium poppy plants used to
make cocaine and heroin, respectively, while helping
the Colombian government end its civil war, reduce
human rights abuses, and reestablish political stability
through aid to its military and police forces. There
was beauty in the PlanпїЅs simplicity: eliminating the
plants which produced the drugs that generated black
market funding for its civil war would almost solve
all the problems facing Colombia simultaneously. And while President Bush has expanded
Plan ColombiaпїЅs visionпїЅalong with renaming it The Andean InitiativeпїЅto
include the deconstruction of all "terrorist groups" operating
in Colombia, heпїЅs kept the other stated goals in place.
Yet Plan Colombia may not have been fueled by a sense of US righteousness nearly as much as it was by the push
of big business. The war in Colombia had been raging for more than 30 years, after all,
before the US decided to get involved. Cocaine use had already peaked
during the crack epidemic of the late 1980s and пїЅ90s
and was on the decline long before intervention in Colombia became a White House imperative. But in 1996, the
US-Colombia Business Partnership was founded to represent
US companies with interests in Colombia, and a well-financed lobbying effort for just such
intervention began. The companies represented by the
Business Partnership included the Occidental Petroleum
Corp, the Enron Corp, Texaco and BP Amoco, among others.
Each had huge stakes in Colombia.
The early winners in
the $1.3 billion Plan Colombia sweepstakes that Congress approved in 2000 were three
military contractors. Sikorsky Helicopters, of Stratford, Connecticut, secured a $360 million contract for 30 Black Hawk
helicopters; the Ft. Worth-based Bell got a $66 million contract for 33 of its Huey helicopters,
and DynCorp, out of Reston, Virginia had an ongoing contract for crop fumigation renewed
for two years for nearly $600 million. Thus DynCorp,
a company which primarily utilizes former military
personnel for its government contracts worldwide became
the lynchpin of Plan Colombia. St. Louis-based Monsanto, the pharmaceutical giant
which had provided Agent Orange as a defoliant during
the Viet Nam war was also a beneficiary as one of its
products, RoundupпїЅglyphosateпїЅ was chosen as the Plan
The biggest potential
winners in the Plan Colombia sweepstakes though, the
oil companies, will have to wait a while for their
payoff, but when it comes it will be a good one. The
US Geological Survey Hollin-Napo Unit, part of the
World Petroleum Resource Assessment 2000 was released
just prior to the passage of Plan Colombia in April 2000. What it indicated was that there were
between 130 and 300 commercially viable but undiscovered
oil fields in the region covering Southern
Colombia, northeastern Ecuador and northwestern Peru. The heaviest concentration of those
are in Putumayo in Colombia and across the river in Sucumbios, Ecuador. Estimates of field size begin at 1 million barrelsпїЅless
is not commercially viableпїЅand top out at 750 million
barrels. But those estimates may be low: One of the
fields pinpointed in the Survey was discovered in 2002
and has 1.41 billion barrels of proven reserves, doubling EcuadorпїЅs known oil reserves.
But standing in the
way of most of the oil exploration in Putumayo is civil war and coca; in Sucumbios there is the protected
reserve status of much of the land and it is diligently
protected by local and foreign environmentalists.
Another issue that exists
in both Putumayo and Sucumbios is the difficulty of pinpointing oil
reserves because of the thick jungle canopy that covers
much of the region. Satellite photography, an invaluable
tool in oil exploration, cannot see through forests.
Staples, Research and Product Developer for RADARSAT,
a Canadian Satellite Imaging company says that "In
the dense forests of Central Canada geologists see variation in forest-type which implies
geological formationпїЅthey can read the topology despite
not seeing it. But in areas of dense tropical jungle
the geology is that much more complex. In other words,
the differentiation between oil deposits and subsurface
water deposits is considerably easier if there is no
There are more than
200 species in the Erythroxylaceae, or coca, family,
but only two have a high enough cocaine alkaloid content
to have any commercial value: Erythroxylum coca v coca,
or Bolivian coca and Erythroxylum novogranatense v
novogranatense, Colombian coca. Both species have been
cultivated for at least 3,000 years and the plantпїЅs
leaves have traditionally been utilized for religious,
social and medicinal reasons. But until recently, only
Bolivian coca was used in the manufacture of cocaine.
It grows well in the moist tropical forests on the
eastern slopes of the Andesmountains in Bolivia and Peru at altitudes ranging from 1,500 to 6,500 feet and
has an alkaloid content considerably higher than any
of the others.
its lower alkaloid content, during the mid-1990s, when
Colombia overtook Peru as the worldпїЅs number one producer
of coca, Colombian coca was pressed into commercial
use because Bolivian coca doesnпїЅt grow there. Colombian
coca grew well on either mountain slopes or in the
sweltering lowland jungle and was particularly draught
a lesser alkaloid content, meeting 70-80% of the worldпїЅs
demand for cocaine necessitated growing more acreage
than was needed with Bolivian coca, which led to major
increases in acreage under cultivation in the last
10 years. Colombia, for instance, was estimated to
be growing about 250,000 acres as late as 1998. But
State Department numbers suggest that during 2001,
Colombia had roughly 420,000 acres under cultivation,
an increase of 40% over four years. That increase,
much of which has taken place in the southern Colombian
state of Putumayo, has been a perfect pretext, generating numbers that justify Plan ColombiaпїЅs key stated component of coca eradication in the
media, and therefore the US publicпїЅs eyes.
During 2001, the first
year spraying was done under the banner of Plan Colombia,
US Ambassador to Colombia Anne Patterson estimated
that 198,000 acres of coca were fumigated, much of
that in Putumayo. But with the onset of Plan Colombia
came the onset of problems for the people in the region.
Farmers claimed that despite US assurances from the
State Department that spraying would be pinpoint and
only utilized on coca crops of more than seven acres,
thousands of people with small family farms were sprayed
as well, got sick and were ultimately displaced by
the spraying. Additionally, there were complaints of
animals dying and food crops poisoned.
The US denied the allegations, insisting that the product
being used, a variant of MonsantoпїЅs household herbicide Roundup,
was safe. On April
30, 2001, shortly after Plan ColombiaпїЅs coca fumigation began, William R. Brownfield, Deputy
Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Western
Hemisphere Affairs wrote in the PhiladelphiaInquirer that "The
agent used in aerial eradication is the herbicide glyphosate...
It is one of the least harmful herbicides to appear
on the world marketпїЅ пїЅAccounts claiming that glyphosate
causes damage to humans, animals and the environment
Secretary Brownfield was either misinformed or lying.
Four months before he opined in the Inquirer,
Dutch journalist Marjon van Royen had published an admission by the State Department
in the Dutch newspaper NRC Handlesblad,
that it wasnпїЅt Roundup, but Roundup Ultra that
was being used in the spraying in Colombia. Additionally, the State Department admitted that
a Colombian product called Cosmoflux was added
to the spray mixture as a surfactant to help keep the
herbicide on the plant long enough to do its work.
But with their admissions, the State Department was
quick to add that both Roundup Ultra and Cosmoflux were
approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
That was nonsense. The
EPA had never heard of Cosmoflux and according
to a spokesperson even now they have not tested it: "We
donпїЅt examine products made for use in a foreign country."
The question of whether
it was Roundup or Roundup Ultra that
was being used, and the presence
of Cosmoflux is not a minor one in the context
of the collateral damage spraying might do to food
crops, animals and people. Roundup Ultra is
considerably stronger than the regular Roundup found
in garden centers. It was only approved for use in
the US in November 2001, and then only for certain
commercial, non-agricultural applications. The handling
instructions correspond to the highest Environmental
Protection Agency toxicity rating, Class 1, while common Roundup falls
into the lower, Class 3 rating. Aside from Roundup
UltraпїЅs toxicity, there is also the question of
the chemical formulation of Cosmoflux. Scientists
who have requested the Cosmoflux formula to
conduct such testing have been told by the State Department
that the information is "proprietary" and "classified."
Despite US denial that Roundup
Ultra combined with Cosmoflux is hazardous
to humans and animals in Colombia, the warning label of common Roundup alone
suggests otherwise. Regarding humans: "Do not allow
workers into treated areas for a period of four hours." Regarding
animals: "We recommend that grazing animals such
as horses, cattle, sheep, goats, rabbits, tortoises
and fowl remain out of the treated area for two weeks." Regarding
plant life: "Avoid contact of herbicide to foliage,
green stems, exposed non-woody roots or fruit of
crops, desirable plants, and trees because severe
injury or destruction is likely to result."
The Roundup label
makes particular note of drift as well, under a section
boldly headlined "ATTENTION," in which it is stated
in capital letters: "AVOID DRIFT. EXTREME CARE MUST
BE USED WHEN APPLYING THIS PRODUCT TO PREVENT INJURY
TO DESIRABLE PLANTS AND CROPS."
Those warnings were
more accurate than Deputy Assistant Secretary BrownfieldпїЅs
assessment of the damage the fumigation campaign was
doing. Two health and environmental studies were carried
out after complaints from campesinos were made shortly
after Plan Colombia spraying began: one in southern
Colombian department of Putumayo and the other in the
northern Ecuador province of Sucumbios. The Colombian
study, by biologist Elsa Nivia between
February and April of 2001 indicated that more than
four thousand people in Putumayo were suffering from
acute eye irritation, respiratory problems, heart arrhythmias,
skin lesions and rashes, temporary paralysis and temporary
blindness among other health problems. Additionally,
thousands of animals had died, and food crops were
The Ecuadorian study,
done in May and June of the same year under the direction
of Dr. Adolpho Mondonaldo was even more revealing,
as Ecuador was not supposed to be sprayed or affected by drift.
Dr. Mondonaldo, studying villages at distances of two,
five and ten kilometers from the Putumayo river on
the Ecuadorian side found that 100% those living within
two and five kilometers of the river suffered the identical
symptoms as those living in Putumayo, Colombia. Among
those people living 10 kilometers from the river 89%
suffered identical symptoms. And as in Colombia, damage to food crops was severe, reaching 85-90%
reduction in production.
US State Department would not comment on the studies.
The complaints were
not coming from those with what the US described as "commercial plantations"пїЅmore than seven
acres. The vast majority came from farmers who, as
a CIA 2002 bulletin titled "Coca Factsheet, A Primer" noted,
had less than one hectare of coca under cultivation.
And the complaints were not coming only from what the
Colombian government repeatedly called "environmental
extremists." In the Spring of 2001, the Germangovernment complained that
chemical drift had destroyed several fishponds theyпїЅd
underwritten; ColombiaпїЅs own Human Rights Ombudsman office contacted the
State Department to call for an end to the fumigation.
Klaus Nyholm, chief of the United Nations drug control efforts
in Colombia weighed in as well, claiming that the spraying was
driving coca farmers to clear new areas of virgin jungle
in which to grow.
The indigenous peoples
of Putumayo also complained bitterly about the spraying in an open letter to the
Colombian and US governments and several environmental
groups. The letter, dated July 10, 2002, was titled "SOS From the
Indigenous Peoples of Putumayo." It was signed by members
of 13 distinct tribal groups and reads, in part, "We
hold the Colombian government responsible for the misery,
hunger, destruction and violence that fumigation causes
in our territories. Fumigation is death. Fumigation
is ethnocide. Glyphosate kills. It destroys
food crops and pastureland and contaminates the waterпїЅ.
The indigenous people of Putumayo reject the cultivation
of illicit crops. But we equally reject the violent
methods with which it is combated."
The closest the US has come to accepting that there might be problems
came on September 5, 2002, when the Bush
Administration, presented a report on the health and
environmental risks of glyphosate to Congress. In it,
it was noted that aerial spraying of herbicide "may
cause eye irritation to farmers on the ground" but
poses no "unreasonable risks or adverse affects'' to
humans or the environment. Environmentalists railed
against the reportпїЅs results, noting that the Administration
was investigating its own program with no outside oversight.
In addition to the problems
caused directly by the spraying of the toxic Roundup
Ultra-Cosmoflux herbicide mix, according to the
productпїЅs safety sheet, when Roundup is burned "4%
of the volume released into the air is acetonitirile." Acetonitrile
is methyl cyanide (CH3CN), which is metabolized into
hydrogen cyanide (HCN) by the human body, the same
gas used in the Nazi death camps. It is so dangerous
to humans that the safety instructions include a caution
that "When burned, stay out of smoke," and goes on
to note that "firefighters or others who may be exposed
to vapors or products of combustion should wear full
protective clothing and self-contained breathing apparatus."
Drug Enforcement Administration
documents produced in connection with early glyphosate spraying
of Colombian marijuana fields list some of the hazards
of inhaling burning glyphosate as "chest
pains, cough, abdominal cramps, dyspnea [difficulty
breathing], nausea, headache, chills, lassitude and
fatigue." Other DEA documents conceded additional
health problems include "pale to ashen-grey skin,
shallow pulse, hypotension, transient paralysis and
The issue is important
because the coca growers in Colombia, like the farmers throughout Amazonia, utilize the slash-and-burn method of agriculture: they cut a section
of forest and burn the vegetation on it to produce
potash, which enhances soil nutrients. "There are no
tractors here," says Sister Carmen of Sucumbios, who
was raised in Colombia. "The people also cut and burn
their fields after spraying and we think they are suffering
for breathing of those burning chemicals. But there
are large interests here at work, political and economic
The State DepartmentпїЅs
Rebecca Brown-Thompson was unaware that 4% of the volume
released in burning glyphosate would metabolize into
hydrogen cyanide. "But then why is that a problem?" Told
that the farmers in the region were slash-and-burn
agriculturalists, she pleaded ignorance. "I didnпїЅt
know that. They really do that there?"
The drift problem from
the fumigation campaign has reached the point where
Sister Carmen says the "frontier region has changed
drastically since Plan ColombiaпїЅs inception."
a Quichua Indian whose village in Sucumbios is near
the Putumayo frontier says "The planes come to the river. Sometimes they come to our
side and spray. Even when they donпїЅt the spray comes
across the river and kills our food. Our platanos,
our yucca, our coffee is all gone. Even our animals
are dead, and there are no animals to hunt in the forest
because they have gone somewhere else."
Asked if he or his representatives
had complained to the government, Cerda said
they had. "They wonпїЅt come because they say there is
no problem here. Why? Because they
have made pacts with the United States. But the truth is that life on the river has changed
since Plan Colombia started."
Sister Carmen says that
both the church where she works and the indigenous
groups have sent repeated requests to Quito, EcuadorпїЅs capital, asking for an investigation of the drift that has come into Ecuador. "They always promise they will send someone but they
never have. Our government backs Plan Colombia, so
why should they come? In whose interest would it be
to investigate the complaints of the victims?"
Despite official denials,
the drift of glyphosate affected so many people that
a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the people of Sucumbios
against DynCorp was filed by the International Labor
Rights Fund in September, 2001. The suit alleges that
the drift in Ecuador is purposeful, rather than the
result of pilot error or an accident of wind. Among
the allegations in the lawsuit are that "the American
oil industry maintains a lobbying group in Washington
D.C. under the name the U.S.-Colombia Business Partnership
that lobbies the Congress of the United States, and
the Executive Offices and related agencies of the United
States, for continuous funding and expansion of Plan
allege on good faith, information and belief that contributing
members to the U.S.-Colombia Business Partnership,
include Texaco, Inc., Occidental Petroleum and BP Amoco,
which have or expect to have oil interests in the region
of Ecuador where Plaintiffs resideпїЅ
the spraying of PlaintiffsпїЅ persons, lands and livestock
with toxic fumigants is nothing less than an act of
mercenary war carried out surreptitiously by the DynCorp
The State DepartmentпїЅs
Brown-Thompson says the suit is unfounded. "We
use satellite imagery to pinpoint areas to be sprayed, then send
in planes to verify the presence of large areas of
illegal crops," she says. "After that, the
crops are sprayed, and subsequently those sprayed areas
are checked to see that no additional crops were affected."
Calls to several crop-dusting
companies in the US southwest found that to limit drift, spraying is done
at an altitude that was equal to the height of the
plant being sprayed. But reports from Colombia and
comments from the US State department indicate that
the spraying in Plan Colombia is generally being done
at heights of 50-100 feet. Crop-dusters, as a point
of pride, like to touch the plants they are spraying. "The
planes are never more than one-to-three feet from the
ground when weпїЅre spraying cotton, maybe 5 feet when
itпїЅs corn," said one pilot at BallardпїЅs Crop Dusting
in Winter, Texas.
Asked how much drift
would occur with a plane flying at 10 feet, the pilot
said, "at least 50 feet on either side of the plane."
Corky Wilson, owners
of Wilson Aerial Spray in Lockney, Texas, agreed. "Hell, if youпїЅre flying at 10 feet youпїЅre
not crop dusting. YouпїЅre burning. The only time we
do that in Texas is to kill mesquite trees."
Told that the US admits its planes frequently spray at altitudes of
50-100 feet, Wilson laughed. "YouпїЅre burning the whole forest now. Hell,
at 20 feet on a windless day youпїЅve got a 150 foot
drift on either wing. At 100 feet you got a cloud that
might travel miles."
While most of the problems
related to Plan Colombia appear to be occurring along the border regions of
both Colombia and Ecuador, startling new allegations have been made that spray
planes are going deep into Ecuadorian Amazonia. Inez
Sheguango Fonaqen, a Quichua Indian and the Regent of the territory
along the upper Rio Napo,
claims that central Amazonia is also being fumigated. "Planes
come into Ecuador regularly," she told this reporter.
They are spraying the jungle here, killing the jungle
and jungle animals here."
Asked how they could
come in unnoticed, Shenguango says "They
come at night with no lights and fly over the jungle.
I have asked the government for film camera to prove
it, but the government wonпїЅt give me one. They say
our communities are inventing the problems and inventing
Two things do hint that
she may not be off the mark. The first is that in July,
2001, US Ambassador to Colombia Anne Patterson told reporters "there
areпїЅplans to outfit some crop dusters with night-vision
scopes to enable pilots to spray after dark, when they
are less exposed to fire from guerrillas, paramilitaries
or farmers who grow coca."
The second came from
the State DepartmentпїЅs Rebecca Brown-Thompson, who,
when asked about the possibility of night incursions
into Ecuador, said: "They cannot be our planes entering Ecuador. But I can only speak for the US Department of StateпїЅs
Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement
Affairs. I cannot speak for other areas of government."
If the allegation were
true, of course, it would be proof that at least one
key element of the Plan Colombia/Andean Initiative
campaign really is to defoliate the region, and if
that were true it could only be to get at the commodities
the region has to offer. Oil is a known commodity.
There may be others.
Oil Leases in Putumayo
While the allegation
made by Inez Sheguango may or may not finally be proven
true, the presence of oil, and plenty of it, in both
the Colombia department of Putumayo and the Ecuadorian province of Sucumbios is a reality. Aside from the ITT field, earlier this year ColombiaпїЅs
state-owned oil company, Ecopetrol, signed contracts
with two firms to explore for oil in blocks located
in Putumayo. CanadaпїЅs Petrobank Energy and Resources
has contracted to explore 30,000 hectares in PutumayoпїЅs
Moqueta region, while the US Argosy Energy International
has signed a contract to explore the 20,000 hectare
Gayuyaco area. Ecopetrol has estimated that Putumayo
has a minimum of 2.4 billion barrels of undiscovered
oil reserves. Ecopetrol is hoping to sign several more
contracts in Putumayo before the end of the year.
It is difficult to imagine
that oil company representatives met with ranking members
of the State Department and explained that if the rainforest
and people in southern Colombia and northern Ecuador were eliminated, they would deliver enough oil to
cushion against any future problems in the Mideast. The time delay in drilling and delivering the oil to market precludes
this. But the fact is that the entire planet is running
out of oil, so longer term concerns are just as important.
Nevertheless, even if the intentions of Plan Colombia/the
Andean Initiative were honestly to eliminate the cocaine
and heroin and take the money out of ColombiaпїЅs civil
war the fact is that Plan Colombia will finally be
The pursuit of rebels
by the Colombian military in the south, along with
the spraying of coca fields there, is forcing both
the rebels, as well as the campesinos, to cross into Ecuador for safety.
And pressure on both
groups is about to increase, as the US doubles the spray area in Colombia in 2002 to fumigate 90% of the coca crop, and in 2003
plans to fumigate 100%. But with the drift in Ecuador already eliminating a large segment of the population
on the border, and with the added pressure of thousands
of refugees cutting new fields from the jungle there,
it shouldnпїЅt take long to have the entire region cleared
of both people and rainforest.
At that point the oil
fest can begin in earnest.
THE COCAINE COMING FROM?
Because the coca plant
is very slow growing, the questions that come to mind
when thinking about all the plants the US has paid to have eradicated in Colombia are: where do the new plants come from and when do
they have time to mature?
According to US State
Department documents, the Bolivian coca plant, the
world standard for making cocaine until the mid-1990s,
takes three years from seed to first harvest. Colombian
coca, which supposedly replaced Bolivian coca as the
worldпїЅs standard in the late-1990s, grows considerably
faster because it is planted from cuttings, not seed.
A 2002 CIA bulletin titled "Coca Fact Sheet: A Primer" suggests
that when planted from cuttings it can be harvested
in as little as 6-8 months.
The same CIA Fact Sheet
suggests there are between 14,000 and 45,000 plants
per hectare (about 2.5 acres) of coca. If we average
that out to 20,000 plants per hectare, there would
be 8,000 plants per acre.
Last year, under the
aegis of Plan Colombia, more than 250,000 acres of coca were destroyed in Colombia. This year that number will increase to nearly 400,000,
or almost every acre of coca under cultivation in Colombia.
At 8,000 plants per, that comes to 3,200,000,000 plants.
ThatпїЅs three billion, two hundred million plants.
Where are the cuttings
for next yearпїЅs crop going to come from if weпїЅve wiped
out their entire crop this year? Where did this yearпїЅs
three billion cuttings come from if we wiped out most
of the crop last year?
Cuttings come from mother
plants. If we assumed that a mother plant was capable
of producing a startlingly high 1,000 cuttings per
annum, there would still need to be 3,200,000 mother
plants somewhere. Where are that many mother plants
being kept? Has anyone bothered to look for such a
Of course, even if there
were such a greenhouse in Colombia, there would still be the question of distribution:
How on earth would anyone distribute three billion
cuttings without being noticed?
Those questions were
posed to the State Department, which had no real answer. "IпїЅve
never thought of that before," said Rebecca Brown-Thompson,
spokesperson for Rand Beers, the Assistant Secretary
of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement
Affairs. "Why donпїЅt you ask the Drug Enforcement Administration?"
A DEA spokesman responded
with: "I get what youпїЅre getting at, the numbers donпїЅt
add up. But Plan Colombia has nothing to do with the
DEA. ThatпїЅs State Department all the way."
The reason there is
no answer is that there are no cuttings. There might
be some, of course, but not three billion, not three
million. Colombian coca growing, on the scale itпїЅs
grown to during the last decade, is now done like it
is done in Bolivia and Peru, from seed. Which
means it takes three years to grow. And since
weпїЅve been wiping out more and more of the crop annually,
there are fewer and fewer mature plants to harvest.
Next year, if weпїЅre being told the truth, there wonпїЅt
be any. Which means there wonпїЅt be
a harvest in Colombia.
That should wipe out
the worldпїЅs coca supply for at least three years, at
a minimum, by which time any stored cocaine will have
hit the streets and been used up. The world ought to
It wonпїЅt be. The prices
probably wonпїЅt even fluctuate. And if they donпїЅt it
will mean only one thing: that the elimination of coca
from southern Colombia has no effect on world supply.
Which will suggest that it never did, that the coca
that produces the world supply is grown elsewhere,
maybe in unsprayed, protected valleys, or that Peru and Bolivia are still producing sufficient supplies, despite a
reduction in their crops.
Of course, that
would suggest that Plan Colombia is a sham. That the
of southern Colombia and the collateral damage itпїЅs
causingпїЅdisplacement of thousands of people, loss of
legal crops and animals and rainforest defoliationпїЅare
being done for other ends.
What are those ends?
Oil is an obvious answer. There may be others. We wonпїЅt
find out for a while, but keep your eyes on it. ItпїЅll
become apparent soon enough.