Colombia's "Defender of the People," a paid government official who acts as a sort of ombudsman between citizens and the Colombian state, has asked the government to halt the spraying of herbicides as part of its coca eradication campaign, the Bogota newspaper El Tiempo reported on Thursday. The defender, Luis Eduardo Cifuentes, announced this week that he had received more than 6,500 complaints from peasants and was asking for a suspension of the eradication program in Putumayo province while the program undergoes a rigorous evaluation of whether the government has complied with its own promises to the affected population.

Cifuentes accused the aerial eradication program and its main contractor, the US mercenary firm DynCorp, of violating promises to not spray over bodies of water, settlements, Indian reservations and areas where farmers had signed voluntary eradication contracts. Peasants complained that the spraying has destroyed their food crops as well as illicit coca, Cifuentes said.

Although the US State Department controversially certified last September that the spraying was not harmful to humans or animals, peasants in affected areas continue to complain of a variety of ailments. According to Cifuentes, the Colombian government's failure to set up a program of epidemiological monitoring has made it impossible to verify a link between the spraying and the ailments and made a "joke" out of environmental regulations. The defender's findings came in a minutely detailed 42-page report made available to the press and government officials on Wednesday. Surprised Colombian governement officials had no comment Thursday, El Tiempo reported.

The Colombian government of Alvaro Uribe, in connivance with the US government, embarked on a new, expanded round of spraying in recent weeks.

-- END --
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Issue #258, 10/11/02 Editorial: Just Claims | Ordeal of the Pain Doctors: California Physician Still Struggling to Clear His Name, Trial Date Set for December | DRCNet Interview: Nandor Tanczos, Member of Parliament, New Zealand | California Medical Marijuana Chronicles: A Widening Conflict | MedMj Chronicles I: The Feds Are Deadly Serious: Bryan Epis Sentenced to Federal Prison | MedMj Chronicles II: San Jose Police Department Cuts Ties with DEA Task Force | MedMj Chronicles III: Marijuana Patients and Caregivers Sue the Feds, Seek Order to Stop Raids | MedMj Chronicles IV: Marijuana Rescheduling Petition Revived | FDA Approves Buphrenorphine for Home Addiction Treatment | Whose Brain on Drugs? Stanford Symposium Focuses on Addiction and Chemistry | Newsbrief: Colombian Ombudsman Petitions Government for Suspension of Herbicide Spraying | Newsbrief: RAVE Act Stalled in House, Could Be Dead for the Year | Newsbrief: Wisconsin Couple Commit Suicide After Pot and 'Shroom Bust, Forfeiture Notice | Newsbrief: Ban on Narcocorridos Spreads in Mexico | Newsbrief: School Districts Drug Testing for Tobacco, Too | Newsbrief: Leaders of Former Soviet Republics Meet to Fight Drugs and Terror, Drink Wine | Newsbrief: Canadian Researchers Seek Approval for Heroin Maintenance Study | Calling on Students to Raise Your Voices for Repeal of the HEA Drug Provision | Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision | The Reformer's Calendar

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