United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is making the rounds in Latin America to drive home the point that while the drug trafficking issue is constantly being addressed, it still needs to do more.
Tillerson said the U.S. has been encouraged by the progress made by Colombia in the reduction of coca growth, but cautioned that “results are what matter,” in remarks while meeting with the country’s leaders.
“We need to see results, we need to see the trends reversing,” Tillerson said at a news conference in Bogota with Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos.
Tillerson’s remarks came days after U.S. President Donald Trump had threatened to curb assistance to illicit drug hotspots.
Last Friday, President Trump threatened to end aid to countries that fail to stop illegal drugs from pouring across the border, after a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official told him cocaine was primarily coming from Colombia and Peru, and trafficked through Mexico and Central America.
“There would be no supply of drugs if there’s no demand, and there would be no demand if there is no supply,” said Santos, indicating the demand in the U.S. is part of the problem.
“We have lost our best leaders, our best journalists, our best judges, our best policemen in this war against drugs,” said Santos, adding Colombia hoped to continue the cooperation with the U.S. to eradicate coca production.
Colombia receives large funding from the United States in the so-called Plan Colombia, which is the name of the U.S. foreign aid, military and diplomatic initiative aimed at combating Colombian drug cartels and left-wing insurgent groups.
The end of the war with the leftist FARC was supposed to end the guerrillas using the drug trade to finance their operations. However, many of the former group are now using the illegal crop to survive as former insurgents are left with no means to feed themselves and the families.
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Photo courtesy AP