Clinton Administration Foreign Drug Policy In Colombia

Since the introduction of narcotics in the United States, American society has felt the effects of drug use in all aspects of daily living. As drug use heightened to new levels in the 1980\'s the Bush Administration chose to declare a "war" on drugs. Never before in our history had crime been combated with war. This war led to the militarization of the United States\' tactics for overcoming illegal drug use in the U.S. Instead of choosing to combat drug use by putting greater effort into reducing demand the Bush Administration chose to decrease illegal drug supply. This required reducing drug supplies from Latin America, an area where most of the illegal drugs are produced and trafficked. The Clinton Administration has chosen to maintain the drug "war". The administration has not changed the distribution of funds that are used for combating the drug problem. The drug war has continued to demonstrate limited success, yet militarization has increased along with spending. Since the beginning of the drug "war" Latin American nations have been targeted by the United States. Latin American nations are believed to be the among the major illegal drug producers in the world. Illicit drug cultivation has more than tripled in the last four or five years. Today, Colombia is the world\'s leading source of cocaine and the leading cultivator of coca, the raw material for cocaine (Reuters). In 1986 Washington passed the International Narcotics Control Act which required foreign countries to cooperate with U.S. efforts in drug-enforcement. The countries could not be "certified" by the U.S. unless they complied with U.S. demands. The executive order given by the President is passed through Congress, where it is negotiated and then ratified. Certification means a continuation of aid from the United States and gains U.S. favor in international financial situations. Most Latin American countries oppose the process but agree to the laws demanded (Casteneda). Colombia is included in the group of nations seeking re-certification every year. In 1996 Colombia did not receive certification, but was given a "vital national interest waiver". In 1997 Colombia again failed to be certified by the U.S. because it was believed that the Colombian government was not doing everything in its power to combat narcotics. The penalties for decertification included the prohibition of more than $1.5 billion in U.S. trade financing and investment guarantees. "Decertification" also means that the U.S. is obliged to vote against multilateral loans for Colombia in international financial institutions. Yet the law specifically allows U.S. funding for counter-narcotics programs to continue, and has no direct affect on these programs (OICJ). In 1999 the Clinton Administration decided to lift the sanctions against Colombia and grant it partial certification. President Bill Clinton\'s statement read "By the virtue of the authority vested in me by section 490(b)(1)(B) of the Act, I hereby determine that it is in the vital national interests of the United States to certify the following major illicit drug producing and/or major illicit drug transit countries: Cambodia, Colombia, Pakistan and Paraguay" (Weekly Copilation of Presidential Documents). The Administration felt that Colombia\'s counter-narcotics efforts have made significant improvement since 1998 and with the new presidential administration in Colombia it is felt that improvement will continue. Colombian law enforcement has increased seizures, arrests and countered private aircraft in drug trafficking. Eradication of crops has greatly increased in efforts to combat coca cultivation. Areas of concern for the U.S. have remained the judicial process and the extradition of "drug lords" to the U.S (CNN). The certification was only partial however because the administration believed that Colombia\'s counter-narcotics efforts still faced serious deficiencies (CNN). The certification of Colombia means greater ease for access to U.S. aid to counter-narcotics efforts. In addition to aid, Colombia would experience fewer economic disadvantages because of certification. Critics of the certification process claim that it damages a nation\'s dignity. It is also seen by many Latin American nations to be unilateral, hypocritical and arbitrary. It is felt the certification is subject to U.S. sentiment towards the country and serves U.S. national interests. There have been few strong attempts to repeal the 1986 International Narcotics Control Act. Latin American countries have not attempted long-term lobbying or diplomatic measures to put an end the certification process. Despite opposition