BOGOTA, Colombia Nobel peace laureate Rigoberta Menchu criticized a U.S.-backed policy of fumigating farmers' drug crops, and said she was disillusioned with efforts to end Colombia's 37-year guerrilla war.
She said President Andres Pastrana, who leaves office in 13 months, might be missing a chance to use peace talks to halt the fighting.
"I was very hopeful that Mr. Pastrana's government would leave behind a significant foundation for peace," Menchu told The Associated Press. "It's frustrating because a lot of things seemed possible two years ago."
The talks have produced almost no tangible results since they begin in January 1999.
Menchu, whose native country Guatemala signed a peace accord in 1996 that ended a 36-year civil war, said Colombia's conflict has continued to get worse.
"Here you don't have a war between two valiant parties who turn their arms on one another, but rather a cowardly war in which arms are turned on the civilian population," said Menchu.
Colombia's war pits leftist guerrillas against the military and paramilitary groups. At least 3,000 people are killed annually, the majority unarmed civilians in massacres.
Menchu also criticized U.S.-backed efforts to eradicate crops used to make cocaine. Opponents say the program, in which herbicides are forcibly sprayed over farmers' plots, is ruining the environment and unfairly punishing poor people who grow coca to feed their families.
U.S. and Colombian officials insist the eradication plans are aimed only at large traffickers, and have offered small farmers aid for switching from coca. But Menchu, the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize, called it a "nefarious" policy that will create more internal refugees.
© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press