Venezuela and Bolivia have reacted angrily to a White House report criticizing their counternarcotics efforts, in another sign of deteriorating relations between the US and these South American allies over drug policy.
In a statement released on September 13, the White House declared both countries, along with Burma, had “failed demonstrably” to adhere to international counternarcotics obligations over the past year. The same accusation was leveled against these countries in 2012. The countries were also among 22 named by the United States as major drug transit or drug producing countries.
Venezuela’s National Anti-Drugs Office (ONA) subsequently issued a press release criticizing the statement, after ONA President Alejandro Keleris strongly rejected the accusations on Twitter (see below).
For its part, the Bolivian government denounced the US practice of using presidential reports to undermine the country’s anti-drug efforts, reported La Razon.
The White House statement pledged to continue counternarcotics aid to Venezuela, declaring it vital to national interests, but made no mention of Bolivia.
Rechazamos contundentemente los señalamientos de los Estados Unidos sobre el supuesto fracaso en la lucha antidrogas en Venezuela
— Alejandro Keleris (@AKeleris) September 14, 2013
InSight Crime Analysis
This is the latest manifestation of tensions over efforts to combat drug trafficking between the United States and these two South American allies.
In Venezuela, one of the major obstacles to US anti-drug efforts is entrenched corruption among security forces, with the so-called Cartel de los Soles (Cartel of the Suns) deeply involved in drug smuggling, something that apparently reaches into the upper echelons of the Venezuelan military.
SEE ALSO: Cartel de los Soles Profile
Meanwhile, Bolivian President Evo Morales’ stance on legalized coca cultivation has put the country at odds with the US. In 2008 Morales ordered the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) out of the country, accusing the body of spying on him. In May 2013, the US announced it would shut down its anti-drug office in Bolivia.
Bolivia has received support from regional and international partners in anti-drug efforts, including Venezuela. According to Morales, the country has made strides in the drug war and is more effective without US assistance. While the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) previously claimed cocaine production was rising in Bolivia despite a reduction in coca crops, it has since revised its figures to show a drop in potential cocaine production.