BELIZE CITY, Fri. Sept. 15, 2017–US president Donald Trump, in a memo released two days ago, has listed Belize as one of 22 major drug transit or major illicit drug-producing countries for fiscal year 2018.
This is the first list being issued under Trump’s presidency, but Belize appeared on lists previously issued by Trump’s forerunner, Barack Obama.
In the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report released back in March this year by the United States Department of State, Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Belize was listed as a source of precursor or essential chemicals used in the production of illicit narcotics. Belize was also listed as a major money laundering jurisdiction.
Back in September 2015, Belize was also among the same 22 countries listed as major illicit drug- producing and/or drug-transit countries, as notified to Congress by Obama.
The other countries were identified as: Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela—the same countries appearing in Trump’s September 13, 2017 presidential determination.
In that White House memo for the US Secretary of State, Trump identified the same countries to be listed for the 2018 fiscal year.
The memo said, though, that: “A country’s presence on the foregoing list is not necessarily a reflection of its government’s counter-narcotics efforts or level of cooperation with the United States.”
It said that “…the reason major drug transit or illicit drug producing countries are placed on the list is the combination of geographic, commercial, and economic factors that allow drugs to transit or be produced, even if a government has carried out the most assiduous narcotics control law enforcement measures.”
Trump went on to designate Bolivia and Venezuela as countries that have failed demonstrably during the preceding year to adhere to their obligations under international counter-narcotics agreements with the USA, and to take the measures required by section 489(a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) of 1961. Burma, which was so designated last year by Obama, was not included in the new list.
The Trump memo noted that Colombia was considered for inclusion this year, but it was not designated because the Colombian National Police and Armed Forces are close law enforcement and security partners of the United States in the Western Hemisphere, they are improving interdiction efforts, and have restarted some eradication that they had significantly curtailed beginning in 2013.
Amandala tried a number of times to reach Prime Minister Dean Barrow today for comment on this latest listing of Belize by the US President. He was unavailable when we contacted his office, however, and our call was not returned as of press time tonight.