Not that we can ever be completely certain that what Trump says or tweets is true from one day to the next, but he recently remarked that he “seriously considered” decertifying Colombia as a partner in the war against drugs because of its record surge in cocaine production over the past year.
Colombia is shocked with Trump’s surprise threat.
“For more than 30 years Colombia has demonstrated its commitment—paying a very high cost in human lives—with overcoming the drug problem,” said Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos, on the government’s website. “Colombia is undoubtedly the country that has fought the most drugs and with more successes on this front. No one has to threaten us to meet this challenge.”
Colombia has been working with both the United Nations and the United States to tackle drug trafficking as part of a peace process with Marxist FARC guerrillas, who controlled much of the national territory used for coca cultivation.
Successive Colombian governments have been at war with the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) for over 50 years.
The historic peace accord, signed in November 2016, has not been easy.
Much to the annoyance of the Colombian government, Trump has pushed for faster results in Colombia’s attempts to reduce coca cultivation, while he simultaneously seeks to reduce aid for the peace process.
That being said, until now, Colombia has been one of Washington’s staunchest allies in Latin America, which made Trump’s announcement that much more shocking.
But then, the Trump administration has never been enamored with the peace process.
The day before Trump’s decertification remarks, a U.S. congressional hearing underscored simmering disagreements and criticized Colombia’s drug policies under the terms of the peace deal.
This has put Colombia, the source of 90 percent of the cocaine consumed in the U.S., between a rock and a hard place.
Although, this is the first time since the late 1990s (when the now defunct Cali Cartel funded a presidential campaign!) that Colombia’s commitment to fighting drug trafficking has been called into question by Washington.
Meanwhile, President Santos, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize last year, has often called on the U.S. to rethink its War on Drugs.
The Colombian president has called for a stronger commitment from drug consumer countries, especially the U.S., to effectively curb consumption through public health policies—not a drug war.
Colombia has had enough war. The five-decade conflict with FARC claimed 220,000 lives, displaced millions of people and hampered the country’s economy.