Originally published by Contagio Radio
Despite the isolation measures implemented across Colombia by President Ivan Duque to deal with the Covid-19 crisis, social organizations from Norte de Santander, Nariño, Caquetá and Putumayo, denounce that in the midst of the quarantine, the forced eradication operations have intensified, particularly in municipalities where collective agreements with the National Program for the Substitution of Illicit Crops (PNIS) were signed.
According to Leider Miranda, national delegate of the National Coordinator of Coca, Poppy and Marijuana Growers (COCCAM), on March 30 the National Army arrived at the community of El Carmelo in Cajibío, Cauca to carryout a forced eradication operation, generating additional health risks to communities that lack basic access to healthcare.
Although with the signing of the 2016 peace agreement, many coca-growing communities expressed their will to seek other economic alternatives through the PNIS program. However, the U.S and Colombian government continue to prioritize forced eradication in a flagrant breach of the 2016 peace agreement.
"They tell the communities that they must stay in place and not leave their homes, to prevent.. [the spread of the virus], but then we wonder why they do not issue a quarantine to the [Colombian] Military Forces? “ asked the COCCAM representative.
The communities that remain in their homes have already warned that if the Colombian Army is going to eradicate their crops, they will mobilize to prevent them from doing so as thousands of families across Colombia rely on these crops for their basic survival.
"We do not want families to clash with the Colombian Military Forces, " says Leider, who highlights that this is the third time that troops have broken into Cajibio.
Other sectors, such as the Actions for Change Coalition (APC), have also requested that the Colombian Army suspend its forced eradication operations during the Covid-19 and guarantee the rights of rural populations.
Amid similar events on March 26, Alejandro Carvajal, a 20-year-old boy, was extrajudicially killed by members of the Colombian Army in the midst of an eradication operation in the Norte de Santander department, according to local human rights organizations.
Similarly, on March 31, in the morning, a similar episode occurred in the community of La Chamba and Casa Vieja in Ancuya, Nariño when the Colombian Army arrived to carry out another forced eradication operation in a municipality where a collective substitution agreement was also signed in accordance to the PNIS program and the 2016 peace deal, which, more than three years since its signing, has failed to become a reality.