The US government continued its attack on Venezuelan anti-drug efforts this week, with Office of National Drug Control Policy head John Walters saying that President Hugo ChÃ¡vez's stance toward the cocaine trade represents a "global threat," especially for Europe. In recent weeks, ahead of looming US government certification of other countries' compliance with US drug policy objectives, US officials have accused Venezuela of being responsible for about one-quarter of the cocaine smuggled out of Latin America.
Venezuela has repeatedly denied that it is shirking on anti-drug efforts. It says that it has cooperative anti-trafficking agreements with other countries, but it refuses to allow the US DEA to operate in its territory and accuses the US of heavy-handedness.
Drug czar Walters wasn't showing a light touch Tuesday in Stockholm, where he addressed an international anti-drug conference. "The problem is not that ChÃ¡vez needs or doesn't need US help, the problem is that Hugo ChÃ¡vez is not acting," Walters told the Associated Press during a break in the conference. "He is not only threatening the safety and security of the people of Venezuela," Walters said. "It is a growing global threat; he is putting Europe at risk."
But Venezuela can point to large seizures over the past few years, including some 20 tons of cocaine seized so far this year, according to figures made available by the Venezuelan embassy.
Curiously, Walters did not mention US ally Colombia as a "global threat" because of cocaine production. Venezuela produces no cocaine, but Colombia is the world's largest producer. Similarly, while it is entirely possible that Venezuela, which shares a long and wild border with Colombia, may indeed see a quarter of the Colombian cocaine supply transit its territory, Walters had nothing to say about the other countries in the region responsible for the other three-quarters of Colombia's cocaine traffic.