Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos made the right choice by announcing, on May 9th, the suspension of a 21-year-old, U.S.-backed aerial herbicide fumigation program. This program sought to eradicate coca bushes—the leaves of which are used to make cocaine—by using aircraft to spray herbicides containing the chemical glyphosate. Since 1994, at a cost likely approaching US$2 billion, planes have sprayed glyphosate over 4.35 million acres of Colombian territory, a zone about equal to Connecticut plus much of Rhode Island. Colombia is the only government that allows aerial herbicide spraying of coca.
In this interview, WOLA’s Adam Isacson outlines the flawed program and what should take its place.