Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday announced a “pilot” program for illicit crop substitution in the southern state of Putumayo, claiming there will be “no more need” for fumigation with its implementation, according to local media.
In a tweet announcing the pilot substitution plan set to take effect in April of next year, Santos said that the “agreement to substitute crops is a demonstration that the farmers of Putumayo want a new country.”
“In Puerto Caecido [in Putumayo near the Ecuadorean border,] peace is more than the silence of gunfire,” reads the image attache Santos’ tweet, with the hashtag “Putumayo without coca.”
“The president claimed that the plan would be integrated with reparations through the Victims’ Unit and with infrastructure improvements, reported newspaper El Espectador.
According to Santos, the pilot substitution agreement was reached with the Regional Table of Social Organizations which represents the farmers of this remote Colombian region known for its cultivation of coca.
Crop substitution is a central aspect of the preliminary agreement on illicit drugs signed with the FARC in the framework of the current peace talks being carried out in Havana, Cuba.
Piedad Cordoba, a leftist ex-senator who is often critical of the Santos administration, served as a guarantor of the talks between the government and the social groups.
The former lawmaker applauded the agreement: “I must say hat President Santos has responded adequately to the demands of the farmers of Putumayo, who have expressed their gratitude to him.”
Cordoba also said through social media that Santos agreed that Putumayo would no longer be a mining district, that environmental licenses would be reviewed, and that there will be a Amazon Development Plan to aid the region.
In the preliminary agreement with the FARC, the government agreed that the problem of illicit crops is to be solved with a two-year voluntary program of crop substitution.
Both sides agreed to create a national programs to implement illicit crop substitution and to address drug consumption with a public health approach, while law enforcement’s institutional capacities are to be amplified to combat criminal groups involved in narco-trafficking.