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Posted: Saturday, September 16, 2023. 6:36 am CST.

By Horace Palacio: In a step toward countering the global drug crisis, US President Joseph R. Biden Jr. recently recognized a list of nations, including Belize, as leading drug transit or illicit drug-producing countries for the fiscal year 2024.

The details of the announcement were made public in a presidential memorandum addressed to the Secretary of State, listing countries such as Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, China, and more, with Belize featuring prominently. The document can be accessed on the official White House website here.

President Biden clarified that being named in this list is not indicative of a country’s efforts or cooperation level in counter-narcotics with the U.S. Instead, nations are identified based on a combination of geographical and economic factors that allow for drug production or transit.

With a recent legislative alteration in the U.S., nations can also be recognized as primary sources for precursor chemicals used in illicit drug manufacturing, which led to the inclusion of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This change has spurred an appeal from the United States to all such nations, including Belize, to reinforce chemical supply chains and prevent potential misdirection.

Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela were distinctly labeled as having “failed demonstrably” in their international counter-narcotics commitments over the last 12 months. Nevertheless, the U.S. perceives support for these countries as essential for its national interests.

Domestically, the drug issue persists as a severe concern. Over 109,000 U.S. citizens lost their lives to drug overdoses in 2022, prompting the administration to take aggressive action. The President’s FY 2024 budget earmarks a substantial $46.1 billion for the National Drug Control Program agencies, underlining the commitment to tackle this grave challenge.

The memorandum also touched upon the difficulties associated with synthetic drugs. The U.S. recently introduced the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats, aiming to unite countries against the common threat posed by these substances.

Key allies like Mexico were commended for their collaborative efforts with the U.S., while Colombia was urged to redouble its efforts against illicit drug production and trade.

Afghanistan, previously categorized as having “failed demonstrably,” received praise for improvements in drug control. Still, concerns about the continuation of the illicit drug trade, especially methamphetamine, from Afghanistan remain.

The memorandum concluded with a directive to publish this determination in the Federal Register and forward it to Congress.


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