Today’s Los Angeles Times
reports that Colombia’s Macarena National Park is being deforested and polluted
by illegal coca farms. After being driven from farmland by U.S.-sponsored aerial fumigation, coca growers have invaded Macarena and other national parks, where fumigation is illegal. In August 2006, six workers manually clearing coca in Macarena were killed
by a bomb detonated by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Recently, Colombia has begun to shift away from aerial fumigation toward manual eradication, which is more effective but poses significant risks to the workers and the security personnel guarding them.
Coca farming gives rise to a wide range of negative environmental effects, including “chemical dumping, deforestation, soil erosion, water pollution, a shift to mono-agriculture, bio-diversity loss, and a potential loss of cultural eco-knowledge,” according to American University’s Trade and Environment Database.
A New York Times article from 1989 demonstrates that, sadly, coca trafficking has been causing violence and environmental destruction across South America for decades.