HomeNewsBriefUS Threatens to Brand Colombia Not Compliant on Anti-Drug Efforts
BRIEF

US Threatens to Brand Colombia Not Compliant on Anti-Drug Efforts

BOLIVIA / 14 SEP 2017 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

In an annual designation of major drug trafficking and producing nations, US President Donald Trump broke with decades of precedent by calling out the anti-narcotics efforts of Colombia, potentially complicating cooperation with one of the United States' closest anti-drug allies in Latin America.

Trump delivered a memorandum to the Secretary of State on September 13 that said his administration had "seriously considered designating Colombia as a country that has failed demonstrably to adhere to its obligations under international counternarcotics agreements," citing the "extraordinary growth of coca cultivation and cocaine production" seen in Colombia in recent years.

Trump decided not to "decertify" Colombia's counternarcotics efforts "because the Colombian National Police and Armed Forces are close law enforcement and security partners of the United States in the Western Hemisphere, they are improving interdiction efforts, and have restarted some eradication that they had significantly curtailed beginning in 2013."

"I will, however, keep this designation ... as an option, and expect Colombia to make significant progress in reducing coca cultivation and production of cocaine," the president wrote in the memo.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos responded to Trump's statements by saying that "Colombia is the country that has put the most blood into the fight against drugs," El Espectador reported.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Drug Policy

As was the case in past years, Bolivia and Venezuela were the only countries designated as major trafficking or producing nations that were determined to have "failed demonstrably" to adhere to their anti-drug obligations. 

As usual, Latin America and the Caribbean dominated the list; 17 of the 22 countries named are located in the region.

InSight Crime Analysis 

The threat to decertify Colombia comes against the backdrop of heightened tensions between the US and Colombian governments over the effects of the latter's historic 2016 peace agreement signed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC). And the statements by the US president could prove to be an obstacle to cooperation with Colombia on counternarcotics issues.

"A slap at an ally trying to deal [with] the problem. Damage to closest bilateral relationship in hemisphere. Huge mistake," tweeted Adam Isacson, the senior associate for defense oversight at the Washington Office on Latin America think tank.

Colombia is indeed producing more cocaine than ever before, but the notion that the government is not doing enough to combat the drug trade lacks supporting evidence. Not only has a peace agreement been achieved with the FARC -- the single most important players in the global drug trade -- but Colombia's Urabeños, the country's largest organized crime threat, have also recently offered to surrender after authorities delivered some serious blows to the organization. 

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles

Trump has made similarly alienating public comments about authorities in Mexico, another crucial partner of the United States in the fight against the drug trade in Latin America. The president once tweeted that Mexico's "weak" efforts to help secure the US border had been of "little help," and he has routinely threatened to force Mexico to pay for the construction of a wall along the border.

Comments like these risk disrupting cooperation between the United States and its most important counternarcotics partners, and could make it difficult for the United States to tackle a domestic drug abuse epidemic that is fueling criminal violence throughout the region.

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

SECURITY POLICY / 15 JUL 2016

Venezuela's government has touted the achievements of a militarized security operation that began a year ago, but many experts say…

CARACHO / 26 DEC 2011

A mass paramilitary surrender resulted in just 21 arrests this weekend in Colombia. The rest of the estimated 269 members…

BOLIVIA / 24 MAY 2012

A former Bolivian drug czar currently held in the United States on drug trafficking charges has accused the Morales government…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…