Certification: White House Says 20 Countries Are Major Drug Producing or Trafficking Nations, But Only Two Political Enemies Get Decertified

In an annual exercise of US prerogative, the White House Monday released this year's Presidential Determination on Major Drug Transit or Major Illicit Drug Producing Countries for Fiscal Year 2008. While the document listed 20 countries as major drug trafficking or producing countries, only two political enemies of the US, Myanmar and Venezuela, were listed as having "failed demonstrably" to live up to US demands about how they fight the drug trade.

Under the US Foreign Assistance Act, countries that fail to live up to US drug-fighting expectations are barred from many forms of US aid. But the US government can waive such a bar if it believes it is in its interests to do so.

Coca leaves drying in warehouse outside Shinahota, Bolivia. The sign reads ''Coca Power and Territory, Dignity and Sovereignty, Regional Congress 2006-08'' (photo by Chronicle editor Phil Smith, 2007)
The performance of the world's biggest drug consuming county and one of its leading marijuana producers, the United States, was not measured in the annual certification exercise.

The 20 countries on the "Majors List" are Afghanistan, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela.

While Afghanistan now produces 93% of the world's opium supply, President Bush praised Afghan President Karzai for strongly attacking the drug trade. Similarly, although Mexico remains a major conduit for drugs coming into the US, aggressive drug war efforts by President Felipe Calderón kept it on the US' good side.

The US remains concerned about high-potency marijuana coming from Canada. The problem, Bush said, is that "growers do not consistently face strict legal punishment."

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the certification exercise was the certification of Bolivia despite longstanding and loudly-expressed US concerns over the Bolivian government's "zero cocaine, but not zero coca" policy. Calling Bolivian cooperation "uneven," the document noted that "the Bolivian government has cooperated closely on interdiction, and operations and seizures have reached record levels. The government is on track to reach 5,600 hectares of eradication this year, surpassing its goal of 5,000 hectares."

Still, the Bush administration worried that Bolivia has "focused primarily on interdiction, to the exclusion of its other essential complements, especially coca crop eradication." It called on Bolivia to "eliminate permissiveness in licit cultivation."

Venezuela, whose President Hugo Chávez is a major irritant to Washington, was decertified for the third year in a row, a move that appears to be tied primarily to Venezuela's refusal to allow the DEA to operate in the country, although Washington also cited corruption and lax enforcement.

US-funded FELCN (Special Force for the Struggle Against Narcotics) checkpoint between Cochabamba and the Chapare, Bolivia, search being conducted for cocaine and precursors (Phil Smith, 2007)
Venezuelan Attorney General Isaías Rodríguez denounced the US decertification as part of Washington's "psychotic" relationship with Caracas. Washington lies about Venezuela, according to Rodríguez, because, "They know that they are exposed to our process of change that... promotes multilateralism and that will put an end to the polarization that the US has maintained as the police force of the world."

The decertification of Venezuela would normally lead to sanctions in the form of reducing financial support to the country by half. However, citing "vital national interests," -- Venezuela is the fourth largest oil exporter to the US accounting for 1.1 to 1.5 million barrels per day -- the Bush administration said it would waive sanctions for a second year.

"The waiver allows us to continue to support some of their democratic institutions and their society," Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Counter-Narcotics, Christy McCampbell, told a press conference in Washington Monday.

The only reason for the waiver was to further subvert Venezuela, said Rodríguez. "The groups that receive dirty money from the US do it to put the brakes on the process of change and transformation that Venezuela has sovereignly decided to exercise," he said.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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venezuela and drugs

it's a total joke that venezuela is cited for not doing enough in the drug war.

hardly any drugs grow there, they just happen to be next to a huge drug producing country people travel through there.
i haven't been that many places, but this is the country i've been to with the most repressive drug laws, that are really enforced.

i spent 3 months in venezuela and the place is crawling with cops and national guard focussed on stopping drugs. not just trafficking - i couldn't believe how terrified normal folks were. many people don't dare smoke weed because it's just too risky. cocaine addiction is pretty bad, because weed is so much harder to come by, and the penalties are the same. they will put tourists in jail for one joint. the airport in caracas is plastered with anti-drug signs warning of severe penalties - and they search every single piece of baggage, not just randomly like here.

on the other hand, alcohol use is out of control there. i came away feeling like drunk driving is the national sport - it's a little scary to get in a cab when you see the driver with a beer between his legs, but what are you gonna do?

i really wanted to like vz because i do admire some of chavez's policies and really want them to work. but it seems like he used the police and nat'l guard as jobs programs and it freaked me out. cops on the beaches with ak47s...uh, no thanks.


i went to Venezuela back in Jan.1986

and they also had the machine guns out on streets and beaches that way back then 21 years ago i remember the guns mainly at the front of banks i agree it was strange and sort of freaked me out as well

the Cocaine was excellent and very cheap ( i quit using it in the late 1990's)

in 1986 I was in between semesters in college and my roomates were both Venezuelan nationals there was also alot of alcohol then even 14 -15 year olds were in some bars drinking but with parents or older siblings. There was no crackdown on drugs at that time or at least it seemed that way. After I left Caracas I went to Costa Rica and fell in love with the place I went back there a couple more times.

VZ=USA minus $ ?

Gee, I guess I won't be traveling there , somegirl. Too bad. And what about Bolivia's "zero whisky. zero corn" policy? How will JonnyP Walters respond to this?

Smoke Bush

It's pretty ridiculous that countries that are poor are targeted as being supporters of the "drug trade". The list mentioned seems like a popularity contest. If you can't afford a Benz and a Prada bag then you get put on the list to be potentially sanctioned. All the countries that are producing drugs are the one's who have more power and political leverage. Pharmaceuticals aren't big business in countries with high poverty levels so they have no population to exploit through pill sales (coke doesn't sell for what the mark up on pills is). We can afford to get high in the US on the best man-made drugs with no worries about the victims in our country or any other. We give wasted dollars to countries for "eradication" and "crop replacement" which could end up in the hands of corrupt politicians. What about using those dollars in helping our own country battle with health care and jobs? The end result, as it stands, is drugs are imported, a group who has money makes more money, and poor people see none of that. The poor become victims of drug abuse (whether licit or illicit) and alcohol in every country where they (poor and drugs) are found , including our own. Drugs need to be legalized taxed and the revenues need to be put to good use. We would save billions , we would be able to help countries who are controlled by drug regimes (similar to the Bush Admin.) by using dollars for eradication to help these countries develop, and reduce poverty bad health and crime worldwide.

put to good use?

Do you honestly think that taxes from legal drugs will be put to good use?

What are YOU smoking?

I say that we should have

I say that we should have legalized ALL DRUGS...YESTERDAY!!! My drug of choice is HEROIN, and I must HONESTLY admit that I am more CONTENT with my life than I have EVER BEEN-EVER!!! And I think if it was MANDATORY for ALL human beings to be DOSED....DAILY, then the world, as a whole, would be a MUCH better place to live in. Because, I know; and this is just me; that with my horse by my side, that I am a MUCH BETTER person TODAY, then I was BEFORE I STARTED!! I give the beautiful opiate credit for instilling in my soul COMPASSION and CONCERN, and WELL WISHES towards all-WHO WOULD'VE THOUGHT?!?!? ME-COMPASSIONATE?!?! And I DO say this with 1OO% HONESTY!!! In my life, there is NO ROOM AT ALL for headaches of ANY kind and I DO NOT have the energy for drama and ill-doing. I feel like singing and dancing through the Poppy fields. And I know that the critics will say that it doesn't stay that way for long, but I AM AN 8-YEAR VETERAN, and I LOVE it more TODAY, than when I started!

Now, ask yourselves: "Does it really sound like such a BAD thing; this HORRIBLE monster that you "holier than thou" prohibitionists make it out to be?!?!? WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD WE WANT TO DESTROY SOMETHING SO HEAVENLY?!?!?!



What's My Drug Of Choice?
Well, What Have You Got?
I Don't Go Broke
And I Do It Alot

Seems So Sick To The Hypocrite Norm
Running Their Boring Drills
But We Are An Elite Race Of Our Own
The Stoners, Junkies, And Freaks

Are You Happy? I Am, Man
Content And Fully Aware
Money, Status, Nothing To Me
'Cause Your Life Is Empty And Bare

You Can't Understand A User's Mind
But Try, With Your Books And Degrees
If You Let Yourself Go And Open Your Mind
I'll Bet You'd Be Doing Like Me
And It Ain't So Bad


Santa Ana, CA


The only things that comes out of India are drugs that cost 1/3 what they cost in the US. But I guess that IS a threat to America...uh, er American Big Pharma, that is.

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