Deal for 2,000 Antioquia displaced to return home

After a week of negotiations, 2,000 people displaced from Bajo Cauca to Taraza in the Antioquia department reach an agreement with the local government to return home.

The exodus began three weeks ago with the displaced, who reportedly left their homes voluntarily, flooding Taraza in order to demand the end of government fumigation operations in their area.

The displaced said that the fumigations, targeted at coca crops, were also ruining crops such as cacao, yucca and plantain planted as part of a United Nations crop substitution program.

According to El Colombiano, an agreement was struck at a meeting Saturday between leaders of the displaced, local government, the U.N. and the local police colonel.

This agreement will see the end of spraying with glyphosate from mid-March, an effort to determine the harmful effects of the fumigation missions so far and to start more projects aimed at providing farmers with a viable alternative to the production of coca plants.

Conflicting reports have emerged since the group arrived in Taraza, with government forces claiming that the 2,000 were forced from their homes by a FARC front operating in the area.

According to a report on Friday, a member of the FARC’s 18th Front who demobilized has claimed responsibility for forcing the displacement.

However, speaking to the newspaper, a leader of the displaced repeated the group’s explanation of its actions, stating, “Nobody displaced us. We are here because we want to be.”

Though the return has now begun, it is a process that could take two to three days to complete, the police colonel said.

On Friday, more than 150 of the displaced began the journey home while educational institutions in Taraza continued to house those who remained.

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