Colombia pays Ecuador for fumigation damages

Colombia paid Ecuador $15 million after anti-narcotics fumigation planes dropped herbicides along the border, harming crops and communities in Ecuadoran territory. After the compensation payment was made, Ecuador announced on Sept. 12 that it would withdraw the formal complaint it had made against Colombia at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). As part of the so-called “war on drugs,” Colombia has long used fumigation planes to spray the herbicide glyphosate on lands believed to be planted with coca crops—especially in the south of the country, near the Ecuador border. Sometimes the wind carries the herbicide across the border, damaging crops, animals and people in the neighboring country.

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos thanked his Ecuadoran counterpart, Rafael Correa, for withdrawing the complaint from the ICJ. But Ecuadoran campesinos in the border area reacted angrily to the agreement, demanding that Correa continue to pursue the case at The Hague. Daniel Alarcón, president of the Federation of Campesino Organizations of the Ecuadoran Frontier Belt of Sucumbíos (FORCCOFES), said that as a result of the contamination, Ecuador’s border lands “have been deteriorated and the people are now more fragile because of diseases they did not previously have.”

FORCCOFES says that the herbicide often travels up to 50 kilometers into Ecuadoran territory. Colombia is the only country in the world that currently allows the aerial spraying of illicit crops. (Colombia Reports, Sept. 14; INREDH, Sept. 10; Minuto 30, Medellín, Sept. 2)

Repeated instances of glyphosate spraying in Ecuadoran territory have sparked protests and provided President Rafael Correa with a populist rallying point. The spraying has also been a source of recent unrest within Colombia.


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