In drug war, environment takes a pounding


Manuel Burbano, 47, remembers being at the bottom of the barrel. As a child, he was so hungry his skin “flared like a lamp from anemia,” he recalls. At 30, he watched his children slave away just to make ends meet on the family’s small sugarcane plantation and cattle ranch. Then in the 1980s, coca began to sprout up near his home in Puerto Asís county in the southern state of Putumayo. Burbano planted 25 acres (10 hectares). “I finally could pay the schooling and medical care for my kids for the first time with that money,” he recalls. But the cost of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides soared in the late-90s. Prices for coca stagnated and profits evaporated. Fighting between Marxist guerrillas of the... [Log in to read more]

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