US: Venezuela Has Failed to Tackle Drug Trafficking

The White House accused Venezuela and Bolivia of failing to comply with their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements on Wednesday. 

By Rachael Boothroyd Rojas
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US President Donald Trump
President Trump stated in a memorandum Wednesday that Bolivia and Venezuela had failed to comply with their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements. (Reuters)

Bogota, September 14 2017 ( - The White House accused Venezuela and Bolivia of failing to comply with their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements Wednesday, in its annual designation of countries deemed to be major drug-producing or drug-transiting zones.

The twenty-one countries named in the presidential memorandum were: 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.

Nonetheless, the presidential missive emphasizes that a “country's presence on the foregoing list is not necessarily a reflection of its government's counternarcotics efforts or level of cooperation with the United States”. 

Only Venezuela and Bolivia were placed on the official “decertified” list by the president - though the two countries have been relegated to the blacklist for years. Caracas has consistently protested the categorisation as irresponsible and arbitrary. 

In the 2000s both countries expelled the US Drugs Enforcement Agency, accusing the bureau of being counter-productive in combatting drugs trafficking, as well as of carrying out espionage operations on behalf of the US government. 

Early in 2017, the Trump administration also sanctioned Venezuelan Vice-President Tareck El Aissami over unsubstantiated drug trafficking allegations. The US Treasury Department froze all of El Aissami’s alleged assets in the US under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, making the vice-president the top-ranking official of any country to be sanctioned in this way.

In an unexpected move, Wednesday’s annual designation also stated that the US government “seriously considered” placing Colombia on the list of decertified countries. The US President said he had stopped short of relegating the country due to the Colombian National Police and Armed Forces’ close security relationship with the US. 

Colombia continues to work closely with the DEA, despite the eruption of a massive scandal in 2015, when it emerged that several of the bureau’s agents had had “sex-parties” with sex workers hired by prominent drugs cartels.  

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