Friday, September 16, 2011

El Salvador added to US drug trafficking list

Yesterday, as El Salvador celebrated its Independence Day, the US government added El Salvador and Belize to its list of major drug producing or drug-transit countries. From the US State Department press release:

Under the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (FAA), the President is required each year to notify Congress of those countries he determines to be major illicit drug-producing countries or major drug-transit countries that “significantly affect the United States.” A country’s presence on the list does not necessarily reflect its counternarcotics efforts or its level of cooperation on illegal drug control with the United States. The designation can reflect a combination of geographic, commercial, and economic factors that allow drugs to be produced and/or trafficked through a country.... This year the President has identified 22 countries as major drug-producing or drug-transit countries: Afghanistan, the Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. Belize and El Salvador are new to the list this year.
Prior to their inclusion this week, El Salvador and Belize were the only Central American countries not on the list. It's a sad development, but probably not that surprising. A BBC news report states:
Correspondents say the inclusion of Belize and El Salvador on the list reflects the growing influence of Mexico's powerful drugs cartels. In El Salvador in particular, the Mexican cartels are thought to be forming alliances with street gangs known as "Maras". 
On a visit to El Salvador last March, President Obama promised $200m (£139m) to help fight crime in Central America.

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