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Between the Guerrillas and the State: The Cocalero Movement, Citizenship, and Identity in the Colombian Amazon
by:María Clemencia Ramírez
Responding to pressure from the United States, the Colombian government in 1996 intensified aerial fumigation of coca plantations in the western Amazon region. This crackdown on illicit drug cultivation sparked an uprising among the region’s cocaleros, small-scale coca producers and harvest workers. More than 200,000 campesinos marched that summer to...
Responding to pressure from the United States, the Colombian government in 1996 intensified aerial fumigation of coca plantations in the western Amazon region. This crackdown on illicit drug cultivation sparked an uprising among the region’s cocaleros, small-scale coca producers and harvest workers. More than 200,000 campesinos marched that summer to protest the heightened threat to their livelihoods. Between the Guerrillas and the State is an ethnographic analysis of the cocalero social movement that emerged from the uprising. María Clemencia Ramírez focuses on how the movement unfolded in the department (state) of Putumayo, which has long been subject to the de facto rule of guerrilla and paramilitary armies. The national government portrayed the area as uncivilized and disorderly and refused to see the coca growers as anything but criminals. Ramírez chronicles how the cocaleros demanded that the state recognize campesinos as citizens, provide basic services, and help them to transition from coca growing to legal and sustainable livelihoods.
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