HomeNewsBriefComments by Outgoing US Diplomat Highlight Discord on Anti-Drug Policy
BRIEF

Comments by Outgoing US Diplomat Highlight Discord on Anti-Drug Policy

COLOMBIA / 25 SEP 2017 BY TRISTAN CLAVEL EN

The top US diplomat in charge of anti-drug policies abroad attempted to mend bruised relations with key Latin American partners, but instead succeeded in highlighting the confusion in Washington over how to handle drug-related security issues in the region.

William Brownfield, the outgoing assistant secretary of the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, held a press conference with regional media outlets on September 22, just over a week before he is set to leave his post. (InSight Crime obtained a rough transcript of the conversation from the State Department.)

Against a backdrop of strained diplomatic ties between the United States and its primary Latin American anti-drug partners, the career diplomat appeared to try to mend relationships, emphasizing the quality and importance of regional cooperation on the drug issue.

For example, Brownfield skirted a question about the shortcomings of the US-backed, militarized anti-crime strategy adopted by Mexico. When asked if US-Mexico cooperation had failed -- given rising violence in Mexico and a rise in drug-related overdose deaths in the United States -- Brownfield said that he "hoped not" for the sake of the bilateral relationship, which he unconvincingly described as "positive" under the Trump administration.

Brownfield portrayed Mexico's spiking levels of violence as the result of efficient government action, even as he admitted that criminal groups have undermined government control of many areas of the country. He also insisted on maintaining bilateral coordination on anti-drug issues based on the two countries' shared security interests.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Security Policy

The outgoing diplomat made similarly reconciliatory comments about Colombia, another crucial US anti-drug partner in the region. Seemingly contradicting recent statements he made during testimony before the US Senate, Brownfield described Colombia's current drug control policy as "an excellent strategy," and said US-Colombian anti-narcotic cooperation is a regional model that should be replicated.

When asked if this view contradicted President Donald Trump's recent threat to name Colombia a major drug producing and trafficking country, Brownfield answered that he believed Colombia's eradication efforts to be efficient, but with room for improvement. The outgoing official said he believes that only a combination of traditional interdiction and eradication policies with more progressive, preventative measures would be successful in combatting drug-related security issues.

InSight Crime Analysis

Brownfield's statements suggest that confusion and lack of consensus remain within top US government circles concerning the direction of US anti-narcotic policies in Latin America under the Trump administration. His comments not only appeared to contradict what he has said in the past, but also seem to be at odds with Trump's views.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Drug Policy

It is understandable that Brownfield would attempt to paper over the very real differences of opinion between the US and longtime anti-drug partners like Colombia and Mexico as he prepares to leave office. However, those tensions are sure to linger in the transition period before Brownfield's successor is approved. And some experts believe that Trump may choose a replacement with less diplomatic experience and more "loyalty" to the president, as he has been counseled to do with other key diplomatic posts.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

MEXICO / 23 NOV 2016

Barely one out of every ten cases of reported oil theft in Mexico is presented before a judge, a striking…

ELITES AND CRIME / 30 MAY 2018

A new report details how lax campaign finance laws in Mexico contribute to criminal influence in the political system, a…

COLOMBIA / 8 OCT 2013

The head of one of several narco-paramilitary groups disputing Colombia's lucrative drug real estate on the Eastern Plains has been…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…