Side event: Peasant’s rights at a crossroads: social and economic rights for coca growers in Latin America

Organized by Center for the Study of Law, Justice and Society – Dejusticia with the support of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Coordinadora Nacional de Cultivadores de Coca, Amapola y Marihuana (COCCAM), COORDOSAC, Elementa DDHH, and the Federación Nacional Sindical Unitaria Agropecuaria – FENSUGARO – CUT 

Isabel Pereira, DeJusticia (Presenter)

Nidia Quintero, Coccam

Catalina Martínez, CDR

Luis Felipe, Dejusticia

Isabel Pereira (DeJusticia): Thank you very much for being here. Today we are going to focus on the Colombian context, especially looking at the facts on the Colombian peace treaty. A focus on structural conditions is provided. We are going to explain how are living the people who are involved in these economies based on the cultivation of different substances. The population and the people who cultivate these plants in bombilla are generally franchise communities. They’re actually punished over, and they receive negative effects, doubly because they’re both marginalized and then victims of the harmful effects of criminalisation of drugs. We are also going to look at the effects and intersectionality and how gender also effects this. So we’re going to look at what the relationship is between women who cultivate Coca in in Colombia, and how they relate and how they are affected by these government policies. These political limits also impose more limits on people. So 15 or 20 years ago things were different,  but we will look at these differences in detail. The context is different now, and in fact the effects are worse on these populations. So, within this context, it is easier with working to adjust. The issues that face. Affecting their ability to enjoy their human rights. When gender is added as well, the intersectionality of gender and how this topic also. Interacts. So our panelists are going to go into more detail on these topics. What I can say to sum up is that in recent years there has been quite a few political shifts that have changed the way in which drug policy affects the livelihoods and the ability to enjoy the rights of peasant farmers who are cultivating these substances in Colombia So. In addition, we need to keep in mind context, both military and enforcement actions that are taking against these communities, they are often subjected to. Very extreme policies. And given that they’re coming from marginalized communities, they are often extremely vulnerable, and even more so affected in a negative way. So, the Health Minister at that time presented an alternative for drug policy in Colombia in 2015. And let’s keep in mind that the sending peace treaty was signed in 2016. So, with this change we also saw an increase in the amount of charges and the amount of legal cases being brought against people who are cultivating substances. And there were also issues, health issues that arose as a result. And we can say is that these damaging effects were the result of a really foot out strategy. And have never taken into consideration different alternatives, for example alternative development or different strategies to respond to the global drug problem. So. The strategy that they did take was very costly, and, while it was effective, it was also extremely damaging to these communities. So in terms of these damage, And the very strict drug policy that focus on criminalization and penalization it’s really not the most well suited strategy. Advocates government will reevaluate the strategies and implement strategies of decriminalization. And the most important thing as well is also to respect the different components of the Colombian peace agreements that were laid out. So, the end goal for the government, and the world at large is to try and reduce the reliance of these communities on the cultivation of substances such as Coca. And there are many, many families that are earning their living from cultivating the substances. And it’s important to be able to provide them with a viable alternative. So today, and during the time that we have left, we’re going to hear from some of our panelists that they can give us those specific perspectives. And so, first, we’re going to hear from Socorro, a sociologist and who has focused on the specific effects of the Columbian Peace Treaty and drug policy within the country. I’m going to be introducing each panelist as in the order that they’ll be speaking. And if you have any questions, you can ask here in the chat. And if we have any time at the end, we will answer your question. If not, you can be in contact with us directly and then we are happy to respond.

Luis Felipe (DeJusticia): So. I would like to focus on the effects on the indigenous and peasant farmer population of Colombia, in light of the political shifts that have happened in other recent years. So, there’s three different important categories here. Where there are effects on the health of the peasant population, there are also negative environmental consequences, and Thirdly, there’s also the effects farmers in terms of their ability to be subjects of human rights like having access to land and being able to organize a Community level in this sense. It’s important to clarify that policy changes within the within the context of the former armed conflict in Colombia, these changes are part of the strategy of the Colombian government, which could be seen as a belligerent actor. So these are public policies that are further linked to the development of international. entities. So people who were living in these areas that were being affected by the by colonization, ended up turning to cultivating Coca as a way to support themselves and they came very dependent on this work. So within the armed conflict in Colombia, when the peace agreement was being laid out, an offshoot was adopted. A lot of questions were raised in terms of how these issues were going to address and how human rights were going to be insured. There were a lot of humanitarian concerns. I would like to clarify the different concerns that we had in terms of the Colombian government. Because, people were really thinking about he narrative which would have really shifted. So, and this is what we’ve been seeing throughout from since the 90s and throughout the 21st century. We carried out a study to create our reports and we were able to find some very specific effects on the health rights of these populations. So, I don’t have too much time to get into the exact integrity of the report, but generally speaking there were a lot of rights. Many people were losing their eyesight, and were having on different issues with this skin and. These cases, they weren’t being treated and they weren’t receiving sufficient medical care. And this wasn’t just because they were lacking access to services, but there was also a fitness societal stigma that was leveled against then is leveled against the people from these communities. So, these people are having to face stigma and it makes it more difficult for them to access. Other negative health effects that we’ve seen are, for example, on pregnant women. So, in addition to these health risk, it also damaged communities at large. For example. and let’s say that the region was being fumigate.. The schools that were in that area had to shut down during these times because a lot of the families who were cultivators of Coca had to go in and look for different ways to make a living because the crops were destroyed. So we saw quite a lot of in our report. We found quite a lot of adverse effects related to this communication and I can’t get into exact figures right now, but. And just to be brief, because I only have 5 minutes, but they had very adverse effects. Information that is very important to the Commission and hopefully this week will be a space where we can really clear up these topics and really shine a light shed light on the adverse effects of drug policy on these communities. And we also want to highlight the efforts to fight for human rights in Colombia. We also want to look at what are the different ways that we can provide reparations for these communities who have faced damages.

Isabel Pereira (DeJusticia): Now and next, we’re going to hear from Nidia Quintero, who works for the Union of Peasant Workers in the border of Putumayo and she is the spokesperson of COCCAM, which is the national coordinator of Growers of Coca, Poppy and Marijuana in Colombia. And it is going to be focusing on the research. COCCAM has been carrying out regarding the effects of the implementation effects that have been seen since the Colombian peace Agreement.

Nidia Quintero (Coccam): Thank you and sending sending hugs. Thanks for everyone here. So. I I have a mask on because I’m currently traveling. I wanted to make the effort to be here today because it is important to me to speak to you. So for us, as closer bases of coca fields, when it comes to the implementation of the peace treaty policy. The consequences of the peace agreement really has caused us to suffer a lot. It has had very significant anti-economic effects on these families. So what I’m trying to say is that on these families, who really earn their living and provide for themselves by cultivating Coca, we’ve been extremely hard hit by the drug policies that were implemented and off to the peace agreement.  It was, it was kind of opening the door for international corporations to get involved. There’s a lot of corruption that we see as well and people are becoming or being made poorer and poorer and it is important to say that there’s a lot of uncertainty on the on the part of families and they don’t really know what they’re going to do. I feel it’s very important for us to to address and to let people know. I think it’s important that people be aware of this. So. There’s two things here. First of all, it’s very clear that there there is ample evidence.

Catalina Martínez (CDR): I would like to start introducing the organization I represent here today. We’ve been researching violations occurring in Colombia because of drug policy. One of the most important effects we’ve seen on drug policy in women and other communities is the stigma and discrimination, even issues in pregnancies and other gender generational and intergenerational issues.

There is ample evidence of the damages of glyphosate for health and environmental issues. Measures must be taken to guarantee the reproductive rights of people. People On the top of the scientific records, there are many practical studies of women who have lost their pregnancies or otherwise been extremely negatively affected as result of the use of glycoside in the implementation. So really, we can say that these are cases of women having their reproduction rights violated because they have not been able to maintain a healthy pregnancy on their own. This is a case in which the government really is violating the reproductive rights of women.

There was a case of a woman in public, who was exposed that was sprayed by and he was exposed at four months pregnant. And she had to go hospital in the capital city and because her condition was worsening, she was having rashers (a reaction on her skin), having muscular skeletal reactions as well, and she ended up passing away and this was in March 1999 as a result of complications. This is a case that was presented in 2018. Unfortunately, it’s not the only case of its kind. And there was also a woman named Doris. She is one of 26 people exposed to fumigations at her village. And she was 28 months and her child died a few days later. And as a result, she hasn’t been able to get to her everyday activities. There are many, many other cases where women have lost their pregnancies or otherwise violated. This is extremely important for international mechanisms for justice. The International legal mechanism, to understand, and take into account the violations against reproductive rights.

We also want to express our extreme concern on this and demand the government to take action to prevent the population from living these fumigations.

Luis Felipe (DeJusticia):

I think that the main recommendations that we can make and that we that we can clean reports is to be aware of the impact of these drug policies on people and their rights. So. In the case of Columbia, it’s about really researching what is the impact, and what are the facts, and keeping in mind the intersectionality the way that the level to which the ability of people to enjoy to freely enjoy their human rights has been affected. And here at once we highlight again the example of Katica the Department of current Columbia, and because this case study where we saw a lot of violations and a lot of very unfortunate cases, this is something that’s developing as a result of the consequences and the off turn of the Colombian peace agreements and, and as part of recognizing and acknowledging grievances that we have, we also need to address the issue of fumigation with life standards, because it disproportionately affects the peasant farmer population in Colombia. We also recommend that the Commission creates disciplinary groups  to finance research funded by the international community, so that we really have data went to regarding health. In addition to this, it’s also important to reflect on the environmental impacts that have occurred, so I would say that the baseline is to thoroughly assess the impacts that these populations have had. We also need to implement a mechanism to ensure that this does not continue at all. What role can the international community play to respond to the situation? What we really need to do here is to create transformation and we need to ensure equal, equitable access to peasant rights, and ability to enjoy human rights fully in the context of how drugs policy has impacted this. It’s also important to remember that’s drug policy does have patience when it comes to human rights. And policy has to respect human rights. And no human rights can be violated in the name of the war on Drugs. As a result. These actions from the Colombian government needs to be condemned for what they are. They need to be recognized for what they are and be condemned. They were violations against human rights. And, also relevant, we need to recognize the different negative impacts that were enclosed in the Colombian peace agreement.

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