WASHINGTON, USA, Friday September 21, 2012 – In a recently issued list of nations contributing to drug production or transit, United States President Barack Obama has named several Caribbean countries as among those considered a major part in the drug trade.
“I hereby identify the following countries as major drug transit and/or major illicit drug producing countries: Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela,” he stated in a presidential memorandum.
“A country’s presence on the majors list is not necessarily an adverse reflection of its government’s counternarcotics efforts or level of cooperation with the United States,” the president indicated.
“Consistent with the statutory definition of a major drug transit or drug producing country set forth in section 481(e)(2) and (5) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (FAA), one of the reasons major drug transit or illicit drug producing countries are placed on the list is the combination of geographic, commercial, and economic factors that allow drugs to transit or be produced, even if a government has carried out stringent narcotics control law enforcement measures.”
With specific reference to the region, Obama noted: “This year, the Caribbean was examined for its relative importance as a transit zone for illegal substances destined for US markets. Without factoring in illegal maritime and air drug smuggling believed to be destined for Europe and beyond, approximately five percent of all drugs destined for the United States are estimated to pass through the majors list countries of The Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica.
“As traffickers constantly reorder their routes and methods, the United States and other donors continue to believe that countering the drug trade in the Caribbean is in our national interest, as well as that of the countries themselves. Without the rule of law, well-run institutions, and effective drug interdiction, the viability of the broad range of national and regional goals adopted by Caribbean countries is threatened.
“European, Canadian, and US bilateral drug control support, as well as the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, contribute to the region’s ability to prevent and address drug trafficking and related violence and crime in the Caribbean,” the president continued.
“Similarly, key undertakings by the Organization of American States and UNODC in the region — especially those aimed at bringing long-term stability to Haiti — are an important part of the policy and assistance mosaic for smaller countries seeking to build on the successes of broad regional policies and programmes.”
Looking further afield, the memorandum stated: “United States analysts estimate that approximately 95 percent of illegal drugs cultivated and produced in South America destined for the United States are smuggled through Central America, Mexico, and the Eastern Pacific, primarily using maritime conveyances and illegal air flights.
“ In response, the United States launched the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) in 2008, which was further expanded when I announced the Central America Citizen Security Partnership in San Salvador in March 2011. Through CARSI and the Partnership, the United States has focused its crime prevention, counternarcotics, law enforcement and security assistance, and bolstered rule of law institutions in Central America.
“The region also has strengthened cooperation through the Central American Integration System (SICA) to promote citizen security and other programmes. Multilateral cooperation to stem the flow of precursor chemicals from as far away as China that are used to produce illegal methamphetamine in Central America is an important component of SICA’s unprecedented regional cooperation. Similar objectives are achieved through US support for Mexico’s drug control policies and programs under the Merida Initiative.”