Poppy farmers in Guerrero. Poppy farmers in Guerrero. milenio

Farmers claim damage from poppy spraying

Corn, avocados harmed by herbicide in Guerrero mountains

The Army’s efforts to eradicate opium poppy plantations in the mountains of Guerrero have incurred some collateral damage, according to two farmers.

Guadalupe Callejas and Rosita Rojas Torres filed a formal complaint before the state human rights ombudsman on Friday after a National Defense Secretariat (Sedena) helicopter allegedly sprayed their crops with a chemical substance.

On June 10, Callejas and Rojas, from the town of Cuixapa Norte in the Zapotitlán Tablas municipality, saw an Army helicopter flying over an area where they had planted maize a few weeks before.

Callejas noted that the aircraft was spraying something as it flew higher up into the hills and toward the location of their crops.

The next day both women walked to the area and found the stems of corn had been burned, and the plants were beginning to die.

The two had also planted 60 avocado trees given to them by the federal agriculture department last December. Days after the Army’s flyover, the trees started drying up.

Rojas declared that the loss of her corn crop meant the loss of all her income for the year and her main source of food.

Callejas and Rojas have filed a similar complaint before the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR).

A lawyer from the human rights center of the Montaña region told the newspaper Milenio that after the complaint was filed Sedena reported that the sprayed chemical was the herbicide Gramoxone, also known as Paraquac.

Another farmer in the same municipality filed a similar complaint against Sedena before the PGR but he withdrew it after reaching a financial settlement.

In another case, the non-governmental organization Tlachinollan tried to document the death of a young girl who was allegedly poisoned after coming in contact with a substance sprayed from a helicopter, but her family declined to file a complaint.

Authorities have previously identified poppy plants in Zapotitlán Tablas.

Officials in another community in the region were held against their will by residents last March to demand compensation for poppy plants destroyed by soldiers.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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