DynCorp, a U.S. defense contractor, entered Ecuador illegally in 2000 under President Bill Clinton and poisoned animals and civilians by spraying glyphosate, a toxic chemical, over more than 2,000 farms.
Thousands of Ecuadorean farmers are seeking long overdue justice for the misery DynCorp put their families through are are currently testifying on this historic case before a jury at the U.S. District Court of Washington, D.C.
In 2000, former U.S. President Bill Clinton awarded $1 billion in military aid to then-Colombian President Andres Pastrana, launching counterinsurgency and counternarcotic program known as Plan Colombia. The military campaign, allegedly intended to combat drug traffickers but that ramped up attacks on leftist guerillas and their suspected sympathizers — including poor rural communities — ushered in a wave of mass violence against campesinos and human rights activists that continues today.
Under Plan Colombia, the country also ramped up a controversial aerial fumigation program aimed at wiping out coca crops with overhead spraying of glyphosate, a herbicide — better known by its Monsanto branded name Roundup — which the World Health Organization has said is “probably carcinogenic.”
That’s where DynCorp comes in.
The defense contractor was hired as part of Plan Colombia to carry out aerial spraying of Colombian farms to eliminate coca crops, which can be used to produce cocaine. The plaintiffs claim, however, that DynCorp illegally entered northern Ecuador, spraying toxic glyphosate that caused serious damage to local crops, animals and the health of residents.
Since then, the company has denied responsibility for these actions. But experts say otherwise.
“In Ecuador, I was provided with credible, reliable testimony that the aerial spraying of glyphosate along the Colombia-Ecuador border may damage the physical health of people living in Ecuador,” Paul Hunt, former U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, told reporters in 2007.
International Rights Advocates is currently raising funds for finance travel expenses for plaintiffs and witnesses sharing testimony in court.