President Obama on Monday designated 22 countries, including Afghanistan, Burma and Mexico, as “major drug transit and/or major illicit drug producing countries.”
The White House was careful to note that countries working to combat the drug trade can still wind up on the annual list because of a “combination of geographic, commercial, and economic factors that allow drugs to transit or be produced.”
Bolivia, Burma, which is now called Myanmar, and Venezuela were singled out as failing “demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counter-narcotics agreements,” according to the presidential determination sent to Secretary of State John Kerry.
Obama also declared that helping Burma and Venezuela fight drug producing and trafficking is “vital to the national interests of the United States.”
“[I]llegal poppy cultivation in Afghanistan is among the most difficult international drug-control problems,” Obama stated, adding that it has been the world’s largest poppy producer for 15 of the last 16 years.
Burma, which the Obama administration recently re-established ties with and is allowing U.S. businesses to invest in, and Laos are the next two biggest opium producers.
“[C]ountering illegal drug cultivation in Burma and Laos will require strengthening of state institutions and sustainable economic development,” Obama stated.
Obama praised Colombia, Haiti and Peru for their efforts to stamp out illegal drug production and trafficking.
“While Peru remains the top cocaine producer in the world, the Peruvian government has a comprehensive five-year counter-narcotics strategy to aggressively eradicate illicit coca, implement alternative development programs, interdict illicit narcotics and reduce domestic drug abuse,” Obama stated.
Although not on the list officially, Obama said China’s production of certain chemicals that can be used in synthetic drugs is of concern.
“The international community is also taking steps to focus attention on illegal drug activity in China, especially precursor chemicals produced in China that are diverted from legitimate commerce to criminal elements for the production of illicit plant-based and synthetic drugs,” he stated.
The following 22 countries were designated as major drug producers or gateways for fiscal 2016, a list that is unchanged from last year: 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.
Obama noted that next April, the United Nations is convening a special session focusing on combating drug production and trafficking globally.
Source: Washington examiner