2007 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report

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[As Prepared Statement on the Publication of the 24th International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Washington, D.C. March 1, 2007.]

The Department of State (DOS) releases its 24th Annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), which is mandated by law and produced by the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. While the INCSR delves into substantial detail on a country by country basis, I would like to highlight major trends and accomplishments. In 2006, the United States and our partners in the international community continued to combat narcotics and money-laundering activities vigorously throughout the world. Nonetheless, we saw both progress and setbacks last year.

The Western Hemisphere

Many countries in the Western Hemisphere demonstrated the necessary political will and are confronting the drug trade head on. In Mexico, the Fox and Calderon administrations have cracked down on traffickers and drug related violence more than any previous Mexican governments. In cooperation with the United States, they have seized drugs, eradicated illegal crops, prevented chemical diversion, and extradited some of Mexico's most notorious traffickers. There is still much work to be done. Mexico remains the primary corridor for drugs entering the United States. Over the past year, methamphetamine production increased, and drug-related violence and homicides escalated. We are pleased with the Calderon Administration's strong actions to address these problems, and we look forward to our continued cooperation.

In the Andes, Colombia continued to attack the drug trade and terrorist organizations which profit from it. The Government of Colombia eradicated a record amount of coca last year. Though cultivation persists, aggressive eradication resulted in the destruction of what could have become billions of dollars of cocaine. The number of cocaine addicts in the United States has also dropped from 3.4 million in 1995 to roughly 1.5 million today. It has been almost eight years since the inception of Plan Colombia and our joint efforts are helping reinforce the rule of law and restore order. Since 2002, homicides have declined by 40 percent, kidnappings by 76 percent, and the number of terrorist attacks by 61 percent. This is starkly different from the mid-1990s when Colombia was reeling from drug cartels and insurgent violence. To build on these successes, Colombia has developed a new Strategy for Strengthening Democracy and Social Development. This strategy continues current programs and policies, while emphasizing economic growth, trade, and rural development. The Administration is now seeking Congressional support for this new strategy.

In contrast to the strong stands taken by the governments of Mexico and Colombia, political will in Venezuela and Bolivia faltered last year. The President determined last September that Venezuela, for the second year in a row, demonstrably failed to adhere to its obligations under international narcotics agreements, or cooperate with the United States. Venezuela is now a principal transit country for Andean cocaine. Despite an influx of drugs transiting the country, Venezuela's permissive and corrupt environment led to fewer seizures in the past twelve months. The number of suspected drug flights departing Venezuela also substantially increased, more than doubling in 2005 and continuing to rise last year. From 2005 to 2006 there was a 167 percent increase in cocaine trafficked via air to Hispaniola.

Over the past year, Bolivia experienced an erosion of previous successes. Bolivian President Evo Morales remains the leader of six coca growers' federations and advocates for increased cultivation and the "industrialization" of coca. While Bolivia met its eradication goal by destroying 5,000 hectares of coca in 2006, this represents the lowest amount of eradication in ten years. Moreover, President Morales announced a plan to increase legal coca cultivation from 12,000 to 20,000 hectares, which would be in violation of international agreements if implemented. …