THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY
Annual Presidential Certifications for Major Drug Producing and Transit Countries
Acting on recommendations from Secretary of State Albright, President Clinton today sent to the Congress his certification determinations with respect to the current list of major illicit drug-producing and drug-transit countries. Of the 26 countries and certain jurisdictions on this year's list, 20 have been certified as either cooperating fully with the United States or taking adequate steps on their own to combat the illicit drug problem. They are: The Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Taiwan, Thailand, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
Four majors list countries were certified on the basis of the vital national interests of the United States: Cambodia, Haiti, Nigeria, and Paraguay. The President did not certify Afghanistan and Burma, thus substantially restricting most forms of U.S. assistance for these two countries other than specified categories of counter-drug and humanitarian assistance.
Peru continued to pursue its comprehensive counter-drug strategy throughout 1999, achieving excellent progress towards the goal of eliminating illegal coca cultivation. An additional 24 percent was eliminated in 1999, for an overall reduction of 66 percent over the last four years. Peru's counter-drug alternative development program, working through 103 local governments, almost 700 communities, and more than 15,000 farmers, significantly strengthened social and economic infrastructure in the illicit growing areas and helped shift the economic balance in favor of licit activities.
Peru's significant reduction of illegal coca cultivation demonstrates that its comprehensive counter-drug strategy is working. The key focus now is maintaining and improving the complementary programs that have proven successful, including manual eradication of illegal coca crops, counter-drug related alternative development, airbridge denial operations, and land and maritime/riverine interdiction.
Bolivia also pursued an aggressive counter-drug strategy in 1999. Exceeding the schedule of its own five year plan to eliminate all illicit coca from Bolivia, last year the Banzer administration eliminated an unprecedented 16,999 hectares, for a net reduction of 43 percent. And despite a slight downturn in the Bolivian export sector in 1999, export volumes of nearly all alternative development crops improved. Although Bolivia remains the world's third largest producer of cocaine, its cocaine became less marketable last year due in part to successful law enforcement efforts to prevent precursor chemicals from being smuggled into the country. As is the case for Peru, Bolivia continues to demonstrate that countries with the political will to implement proven counter-drug strategies can achieve significant and sustainable progress, particularly in cooperation with regional neighbors and other countries for which the global problem of illicit drugs is a national priority.
In Colombia counter-drug efforts continue to improve in key areas, demonstrating the commitment of the Pastrana administration to implement decisive measures both on its own and in cooperation with the United States. In addition to substantial drug seizures, Colombian achievements included: Operation Millennium, a coordinated initiative involving Colombian, Mexican and U.S. law enforcement agencies that resulted in more than 30 major arrests; enhanced air interdiction operations by the Colombian Air Force; strong advances in combating maritime trafficking; and increased support by the Colombian armed forces for eradication and lab destruction operations carried out by the Colombian National Police.
Despite these dedicated efforts, Colombia remains the world's largest cocaine producer: over three-quarters of the world's cocaine hydrochloride is processed in Colombia. Approximately 80 percent of the cocaine used in the United States originates or transits Colombia, as does a significant percentage of the heroin. This enormous illicit drug problem, coupled with other serious, interrelated societal, economic and governmental problems, constitutes an urgent crisis now confronting Colombia.
In September 1999, the Pastrana administration unveiled its "Plan Colombia," a balanced and comprehensive strategy to address the many challenges facing the country. The new strategy is well-conceived, incorporating multi-faceted programs that have been proven to work in Peru, Bolivia, Thailand and other countries. The key components target: the peace process; the economy; counter-drug programs, including eradication, alternative development and interdiction; justice system reform and human rights protection; and democratization and social development. If adequately resourced and skillfully implemented, the new strategy should enable Colombia to make substantial progress in all areas.
The United States strongly supports Plan Colombia and has already contributed to funding the $7.5 billion strategy. The Administration has proposed to the Congress a balanced and fully integrated program totaling more than $1.6 billion over the next two years to assist in implementing Plan Colombia and in preserving counter-drug successes in Peru, Bolivia and other countries in the Andean region.
The Government of Mexico remains committed at the highest levels to implementing effective counter-drug programs and to cooperating with the United States in efforts to defeat and dismantle heavily armed and well-financed international drug trafficking organizations. In recent years, the two governments have constructed an unprecedented framework for coordination, a mechanism for evaluation of progress, and several fora for regular consultation on counter-drug issues.
Under President Zedillo's leadership, Mexico achieved some notable successes in 1999. These achievements included: further implementation of its multi-year $500 million public security investment plan; over 8,000 drug-related arrests, including several major traffickers; significant maritime seizures involving close cooperation between the Mexican Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard; a 39 percent increase in marijuana eradication over 1998 and a corresponding net production decrease of 19 percent for the year; a more than 25 percent drop in net opium gum production; and the extradition of 14 fugitives to the United States, including two Mexican national drug traffickers.
Mexico's achievements, however, continued to be undermined by chronic institutional weaknesses, particularly drug-related corruption and judicial obstacles to the swift extradition of fugitives. President Zedillo has made combating corruption a national priority, and has taken steps to improve internal controls, but he acknowledges that success will take time.
Cambodia took a number of steps forward in 1999, including increased emphasis on eradication of illicit marijuana plantations, first-time drug seizures at Phnom Penh's international airport, and several dismissals of senior officials for corruption. In addition, cooperation by Cambodian authorities with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was excellent. However, political turmoil and related violence, coupled with endemic corruption, effectively precluded a fully credible anti-drug effort. There has been no fundamental institutional reform that would meet the law enforcement challenge Cambodia faces from lawless elements, including major drug traffickers.
Thus, despite some improvements, Cambodia still failed to meet the statutory standard for certification based on full cooperation with the United States or taking adequate steps on its own to achieve full compliance with the goals and objectives of the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Given that democracy in Cambodia is not yet fully established, U.S. vital national interests call for certification on that basis in order to promote democracy in Cambodia and stability throughout the region. Should counter-drug sanctions be imposed, it would not be possible for the United States to provide strategically-placed assistance to respond to potential crises and to strengthen Cambodia's economic and institutional bases for a democratic system.
Haiti is a significant transshipment point for drugs, primarily cocaine, moving through the Caribbean from South America to the United States. With many obstacles confronting the Government of Haiti, including extensive corruption, weak institutions and scarce resources, little significant counter-drug progress was made in 1999. This was generally the case even in areas where such progress was reasonably achievable.
Haiti thus failed to meet the statutory standard required for certification based on full cooperation with the United States or taking adequate steps on its own to achieve full compliance with the goals and objectives of the 1988 UN Drug Convention. However, a cutoff of bilateral assistance would threaten security and democratic stability in Haiti, both of which bear immediately and directly on U.S. ability to disrupt the flow of both illicit drugs and undocumented Haitian migrants into the United States. Haiti has therefore been certified on the basis of U.S. vital national interests.
Poly-crime organizations centered in Nigeria operate extensive global trafficking networks, dominate the Sub-Saharan drug markets, and account for a large part of the heroin imported into the United States. They also transport South American cocaine to Europe, Asia and elsewhere in Africa, especially South Africa, and export marijuana to Europe and West Africa. The new democratic government of President Obasanjo's strong public denunciation of drug trafficking and financial crimes is a welcome change from the high-level indifference of previous administrations. In addition, there were some counter-drug successes in 1999, related primarily to improved enforcement at airports, arrests of drug couriers, and illicit crop eradication.
Overall, however, the Nigerian counter-drug effort remains unfocused and lacking in material support, with no new actions or policies to bring about change. There were no major trafficker prosecutions or arrests last year, nor were there any extraditions in response to outstanding U.S. extradition requests. Corruption was widespread and potentially effective counter-drug laws were generally not enforced.
While Nigeria does not meet the statutory criteria for certification based on full cooperation with the United States or taking adequate steps on its own to achieve full compliance with the goals and objectives of the 1988 UN Drug Convention, U.S. vital national interests require providing humanitarian, economic and security assistance to Nigeria in addition to counter-drug and humanitarian assistance. Not doing so now would jeopardize not only an emerging democracy in one of Africa's most important countries, but also Nigeria's attempts to reinvigorate its failing economy and its support for democracy and peacekeeping throughout the region. A decision not to certify Nigeria would block assistance that the new democratically-elected government needs to meet these challenges, seriously damaging the prospects for success of stable, transparent democracy in Nigeria.
Paraguay, a significant cocaine transit country, failed to accomplish the majority of its counter-drug goals for 1999. In particular, no major traffickers were investigated, arrested or prosecuted, nor were sufficient measures taken to prevent or punish corruption related to drug trafficking. A decision not to certify Paraguay would, however, cut off civilian and military assistance programs designed to strengthen Paraguay's democratic institutions, thereby negatively impacting U.S. vital national interests related to drug trafficking, terrorism, intellectual property piracy and environmental preservation. In 2000, the Government of Paraguay should translate its oft-stated political will into concrete action against major drug traffickers, money laundering, and official corruption.
In Afghanistan, there has been a sharp increase in poppy cultivation, in refining of opium into heroin, and in trafficking of illicit opiates. Last year, Afghanistan cultivated a larger poppy crop and harvested more opium gum than any other country by a wide margin. Increasing evidence supports the conclusion that the largest of Afghanistan's factions, the Taliban, is fully complicit in the illicit drug trade. Controlling 85-90% of Afghanistan and 97% percent of the opium cultivation area, the Taliban derives significant income from every phase of drug production and trafficking, through crop taxation and other means.
The substantial increases in large-scale opium cultivation and trafficking, coupled with the failure of Taliban authorities to initiate an appropriate law enforcement response, preclude a determination that Afghanistan has taken adequate steps on its own to achieve full compliance with the goals and objectives of the UN 1988 Drug Convention, to which Afghanistan is a party. Nor has Afghanistan sufficiently cooperated with U.S. counter-drug efforts. In the absence of verifiable and unambiguous steps by the Taliban to counter the illicit drug problem, the United States and other concerned countries are compelled to redirect their counter-drug efforts to interdiction and border control strategies in surrounding countries.
Burma is the world's second largest producer of opium and heroin after Afghanistan. Counter-drug efforts in 1999 showed progress in several areas, including: increased methamphetamine and ephedrine seizures; modest expansion of crop eradication; and a number of arrests of members of some cease-fire groups for drug trafficking.
Such efforts must be stepped up, however, if they are to have a significant impact on the overall trafficking problem. Large-scale poppy cultivation and opium production continue, decreasing in the last few years largely because of severe drought conditions rather than eradication programs. The Government of Burma's effective toleration of money laundering, its unwillingness to implement its drug laws, and its failure to render notorious traffickers under indictment in the United States all remain serious concerns. Burma's counter-drug efforts are far from commensurate with the scope of the illicit problem within its borders.
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