Research: Publications

El “Punto Cero” del Plan Colombia

April 2, 2001 | Report

By Ingrid Vacius, Adam Isacson

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Pregúntele a los habitantes del Putumayo cómo era esta región hace mas de veinte años, antes de la llegada de la coca, y le describirán un sitio idílico – de esos que ya no existen. Un lugar selvático, lleno de micos y mariposas; ríos con pescados y delfines rosados de agua dulce; y loros y guacamayas volando por encima de los árboles en tal cantidad que parecían nubes de colores.

The department (province) of Putumayo, in Colombia’s far south bordering Ecuador and Peru, is a sliver of land about the size of the state of Maryland. Its topography and climate vary from the cool Andean foothills in the northwest (known as "upper Putumayo"), to a central plateau of plains and savannah ("middle Putumayo"), to the lush, steamy lowlands in the south and southeast ("lower Putumayo"). Following the course of the department’s many rivers from the highlands to the lowlands, the locals use "up" and "down" instead of compass points when giving directions. Though the muddy, chocolate-brown Putumayo River begins only a couple of hundred miles from the Pacific Ocean, a boat put in the water here can drift downstream along the borders with Ecuador and Peru, into the Amazon river and, eventually, into the Atlantic.

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