Country Risk

Aerial fumigation return in Colombia increases risk of community protests and violent assault by armed groups

30 October 2018

Key Points

  • The return of aerial fumigation with unmanned aerial vehicles is likely to trigger violent protests by coca farmers, with the support of local communities and armed groups including the Ejército de Liberacion Nacional, Fuerzas Armadadas Revoltionarias de Colombia, and the Gulf Clan.
  • Violent protests will be concentrated in the Bajo Cauca region of Antioquia department, where the first pilot programme is being conducted, but will spread as the practice is expanding to other high coca concentration areas in the departments of Cauca, Nariño, Norte de Santander, and Putumayo.
  • Violent opposition to crop eradication efforts is likely to include attacks by militants targeting cargo and fixed assets, including poorly protected and isolated construction projects and extractive industry sites and road blocks at choke points.


The Colombian government has reintroduced aerial fumigation of the coca leaf, using the herbicide glyphosate, in its efforts to eliminate the plant’s use within the production of cocaine. The resurgence of the fumigation – using unmanned aerial vehicles, followed a cessation of fumigation since 2015, and is highly likely to trigger violent protests by coca farmers supported by armed groups within the region.

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