Venezuela Aug. 31 rejected US requests to resume Drug War cooperation, saying Washington should focus on slashing demand for drugs at home rather than blaming setbacks on other nations’ supposed lack of cooperation. “The anti-drug fight in Venezuela has shown significant progress during recent years, especially since the government ended official cooperation programs with the DEA,” Venezuela’s foreign ministry said in a statement. President Hugo Chávez responded angrily to recent comment by US Drug Czar John Walters, calling him “stupid” for suggesting that drug smuggling through Venezuela has increased. (AP, Sept. 1)
“The flow of cocaine through Venezuela—both north particularly through the Dominican Republic and Haiti but also into Europe through Africa and other places—has increased dramatically,” Walters told the Associated Press in a recent interview. He said smuggling through Venezuela had quadrupled since 2004, to about 250 metric tons last year, or about one-quarter of total regional (and thus global) cocaine production.
Drug War cooperation between the US and Venezuela have been almost nonexistent since Chávez expelled the DEA in 2005, charging the agency with spying. Only two DEA agents are currently stationed in Venezuela, and their activities are very circumscribed. Since then, the US has increasingly accused Venezuela of a lax attitude towards drug traffickers.
Venezuela brusquely rejected renewed calls from Washington to accept a visit from Walters and resume cooperation this week, saying it had made progress by itself and working with other countries. “The anti-drug fight in Venezuela has shown significant progress during recent years, especially since the government ended official cooperation programs with the DEA,” Venezuela’s foreign ministry said in a statement. Renewing talks on drugs would be “useless and inopportune,” the statement said.
Walters had tried to “impose his visit as an obligation,” the foreign ministry complained. “The government considers this kind of visit useless and ill-timed and feels that this official would better use his time to control the flourishing drug trafficking and abuse in his own country,” the statement said. (Drug War Chronicle, Sept. 5)
See our last post on Venezuela.