Colombia’s government on Thursday responded unusually harsh to US President Donald Trump’s surprise threat to decertify the country as a partner in counter-narcotics efforts.
In a press release published on the website of President Juan Manuel Santos, the national government responded, saying “nobody has to threaten us to confront this challenge.”
The country’s Defense Minister and former ambassador to Washington, Luis Carlos Villegas, subsequently reprimanded the government’s American ally, saying the US “has a border with Mexico it could protect better in terms of drugs.”
They brought us the news on the seizure of 10 tons of drugs in 2016 at the land border. This means that for every ton seized by the US we seize 44, with a 1000th of the military, police and judicial capacity that country has.
Luis Carlos Villegas
The angry response followed Trump’s assertion he had “seriously considered” to remove Colombia from the list of partner countries in international counter-narcotic efforts.
A decertification would put Colombia in the same category as Venezuela and Bolivia, the two countries that have openly defied US foreign policy and refuse to cooperate with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Colombia has been working with both the United Nations and the United States to tackle drug trafficking as part of a peace process with Marxist FARC guerrillas that long controlled much of the national territory used for the cultivation of coca, the base ingredient for cocaine.
Much to the annoyance of the Colombian government, Trump has increasingly pushed for quick results in Colombia’s attempts to reduce coca cultivation while unsuccessfully trying to reduce aid for the peace process.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, on the other hand, has called to rethink the US-led war on drugs for years, claiming the human cost of the American strategy was too high while not producing the desired results.
For more than 30 years Colombia has demonstrated its commitment – paying a very high cost in human lives – with overcoming the drug problem. This commitment stems from the profound conviction that the consumption, production and trafficking of drugs constitute a serious threat to the well-being and security of citizens. Colombia is undoubtedly the country that has fought the most drugs and with more successes on this front. No one has to threaten us to meet this challenge.
Colombia’s National Government
Santos has been looking for more commitment from consumer countries, in particular the United States, to effectively curb consumption through public health policies.
The problem of drugs is global. Overcoming it can only be achieved through cooperation and under the principle of joint responsibility. Consumer countries’ authorities have a fundamental responsibility to their fellow citizens and the world to reduce consumption and to attack trafficking and distribution organizations in their own countries.
Colombia’s National Government
Trump’s comment came only five days before he was supposed to meet with his Colombian counterpart during the United Nations General Assembly in New York.