Colombia cocaine spraying resumes

Friday, November 16, 2001

The Associated Press

BOGOTA, Colombia -- The government resumed fumigating peasant's drug plots in the world's largest cocaine producing region, saying Thursday that it was punishing farmers for planting new crops

The spraying in southern Putumayo province, part of a $1.3 billion aid plan from Washington, could spark angry reactions from family farmers who scratch out a living by growing coca, the plant used to make cocaine.

After an initial fumigation blitz between December and February, Colombia's government suspended fumigation in Putumayo. Officials turned their efforts to enlisting farmers in voluntary crop eradication agreements.

Some 38,000 family farmers signed the so-called "social pacts", agreeing to begin eliminating coca in return for a one-year moratorium on spraying by the government.

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