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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS -
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U.S. Decertifies Venezuela on Drug Control

Posted in the database on Sunday, September 18th, 2005 @ 20:07:15 MST (756 views)
by Dan Feder    the narcosphere  

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The Cubanization of United States policy toward Venezuela has begun in earnest. Yesterday, President George W. Bush released his findings on drug war “certification” – the highly politicized list the White House has produced since the mid-1980s of which countries are doing their part in “international” drug control efforts, and which have “failed demonstrably.”

Only two countries did not make the cut this year. The first was perennially-decertified Myanmar (Burma). The second was, as the State Department threatened last month, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela…

From yesterday’s presidential determination:

Pursuant to section 706(2)(A) of the FRAA, I hereby designate Burma and Venezuela as countries that have failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements and take the measures set forth in section 489(a)(1) of the FAA. Attached to this report (Tab A) are justifications for the determinations on Burma and Venezuela, as required by section 706(2)(B).

I have also determined, in accordance with provisions of section 706(3)(A) of the FRAA, that support for programs to aid Venezuela's democratic institutions, establish selected community development projects, and strengthen Venezuela's political party system is vital to the national interests of the United States.

(The “justifications” mentioned are not attached to the online version and, as far as I can tell, are not available anywhere online.)

In the last two months, the State Department has mentioned a few areas of “concern” at its daily press briefings: Venezuela’s slowness on passing an organized crime bill that the U.S. supports, and its unwillingness to sign on to an international agreement on monitoring aircraft. Pretty minor stuff compared to Venezuela’s neighbor, staunch U.S. ally Colombia, where sections of the Army are major players in the cocaine and heroin trade and impunity, despite a few high-level arrests now and then, essentially rules.

A key point to note in the presidential determination is the waiver that allows support for Venezuela’s “democratic institutions” to continue. This is important because a drug war decertification generally implies blocking a country from international aid and loans. So, while aid to Venezuelan “democracy” (code for funding the opposition to President Chávez, most recently seen in the National Endowment for Democracy’s $107,000 grant to Súmate this week) will be allowed to continue, Venezuela will most likely be cut off from other forms of aid and loans from institutions like the World Bank.

It would seem, then, that the White House and State Department are using the drug war pretext to begin what could evolve into a Cuba-style economic blockade of Venezuela. At the very least, they are employing a tool that in the past has been quite effective for the political isolation of other countries, and, in the case of Panama in 1989, was part of the run-up to U.S. military invasion.



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