Colombian presidential candidates are divided about the policy of aerial fumigation of coca crops.
In a debate organized by Medellin newspaper El Colombiano on Thursday, Juan Manuel Santos and German Vargas Lleras defended the controversial practice. Both candidates agreed that the mass production of coca is a security issue and should be combated both by manual eradication and aerial fumigation.
Antanas Mockus said he was in favor of continuing working with the U.S. to fight drug production and trafficking, but said that the policy of aerial fumigation should be thoroughly revised because of social pressures.
Socialist candidate Gustavo Petro was fiercest in rejecting the aerial fumigation of crops, which he thinks fails to solve the problem, while “drug traffickers embrace governors and mayors and enter the Casa de Nariño (Colombia’s presidential palace) through a backdoor.”
Conservative candidate Noemi Sanin considered the fumigation a “lesser evil,” but did stress the need for coca farmers to grow alternative crops.
Aerial fumigation has been the subject of controversy for years as it indiscriminately destroys both illegal and legal crops and is said to cause health problems among the population.