The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Ecuador says to sue Colombia over drug fumigation

QUITO, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Ecuador said on Tuesday it planned to file a lawsuit in international court charging Colombia with violating an agreement over fumigation of illegal drug fields along their border.

Colombia's U.S.-backed anti-drug program has fueled tensions with Ecuador's new left-wing president, Rafael Correa, who says the herbicides pose a risk to people and farm crops on Ecuador's side of the porous border.

Correa, an ally of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez and a critic of U.S. policies in the region, last month agreed with Colombia to monitor the spraying to make sure glyphosate herbicides did not cross over the frontier.

"We know that yesterday fumigation restarted. ... They did not inform us and that really complicates matters," Ecuador's Foreign Minister Maria Espinosa told a local television station.

Espinosa said Colombia's actions means Ecuador would push ahead with plans to sue Colombia in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

An official at the Colombian Embassy in Quito said he had no immediate comment.

Ecuador in December recalled its ambassador from Bogota after tensions escalated between the South American neighbors over the drug spraying. Bogota says the herbicides are safe.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who has received millions of dollars in U.S. aid to fight the drug trade and left-wing rebels, says the aerial spraying is vital to its efforts.

"We have to destroy drugs in our territory, but we respect the territory of our neighbors," Uribe told reporters at the United Nations headquarters in New York where he met with new Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier on Tuesday.

"As we have to spray in our territory, we understand that we cannot spray on the territory of our neighbors. Our only statement is we respect our neighbors," he said.

Colombia is the world's top cocaine producer, with an output of about 600 tonnes of the drug a year. Most of that is shipped to U.S. and European markets.

Uribe's government halted herbicide spraying in a 6-mile (10-km) swathe near the border a year ago after Ecuador and rights advocates complained about the impact on local residents and legal crops. (Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations)

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