Colombia

Colombian coca farmers, facing a threat to their livelihood, resist U.S.-backed efforts to eradicate cocaine production

Colombian coca farmers, facing a threat to their livelihood, resist U.S.-backed efforts to eradicate cocaine production

The anti-narcotics police arrived here in the heart of Colombia’s cocaine industry last month to destroy the coca crop. The community was determined to save it.

Roughly 1,000 farmers, some armed with clubs, surrounded the hilltop camp that police had set up in a jungle clearing and began closing in on the officers.

The police started shooting. When they were done, seven farmers were dead and 21 were wounded.

“Several friends and neighbors died on the ground waiting for medical assistance,” said Luis Gaitan, 32, who protected himself by hiding behind a tree stump.

In the end, the police crackdown appeared to have little result.

Gaitan and others soon...

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