Peru’s Humala Calls for Closer Anti-Drug Cooperation with US

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Peru’s President Ollanta Humala has called for heightened counternarcotics cooperation with the U.S., requesting a host of new technology to assist his government in the struggle against drug trafficking.

After delivering a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in which he called on the U.S. to reconsider its immigration policies, Humala told journalists in New York that he hopes to improve bilateral ties between the two governments on drug policy. “That is our interest, qualitatively superior cooperation with the U.S. in the fight against this scourge,” he said.

Specifically, he highlighted the need for better equipment for the country’s drug enforcement officers, saying that satellite technology and other types of scanners were needed to locate illicit coca crops in remote regions like the Apurimac and Ene River Valley (known as the VRAE). At the same time, Humala said that his government needed to do more to present economic alternatives to coca cultivation in the poorest parts of the country, where for many farmers many it is the main source of income; “For them, they only do this because they have no economic alternative.”

Last year Peru received $38 million from the U.S. for the eradication of illicit coca crops, but Humala did not say whether he would ask for increased financial assistance.

The announcement is the latest indicator that, unlike fellow leftists Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, and Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, Humala’s administration will cooperate with U.S. anti-drug efforts. This was thrown into doubt last month, when Humala raised the ire of U.S. drug officials by temporarily suspending coca eradication efforts in the country.

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