September 17, 2008 in Nation/World

U.S. says Bolivia not aiding war on drugs

By MATTHEW LEE Associated Press
 

WASHINGTON – President Bush has determined that Bolivia is no longer cooperating in the war on drugs, placing it on a counter-narcotics blacklist along with Venezuela, as U.S. ties with the leftist Latin American governments plummet.

The two nations – Bolivia for the first time and Venezuela for the fourth year in a row – were found to have “failed demonstrably” to meet commitments to combat the production and trafficking of illicit drugs, mainly cocaine.

Myanmar, a major producer of methamphetamine, also made a repeat appearance on the list.

The designations can result in significant cuts in U.S. aid, but Bush spared both Bolivia and Venezuela from such penalties, citing a national interest waiver.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, was not given a waiver but is already under numerous U.S. sanctions that bar all but humanitarian assistance.

Bush’s findings came in the annual release of the State Department’s roster of countries deemed to be major producers of, or transit sites for, illicit drugs. The same 20 nations that were on the list in 2007 made this year’s list. The only change was the addition of Bolivia to the list of those not cooperating in the drug war.

The Bolivia and Venezuela determinations were made as Washington’s relations with populist leaders in La Paz and Caracas fall to new lows. Both countries last week expelled the U.S. ambassadors, prompting tit-for-tat reciprocal expulsions of their envoys to the United States.

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