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LatinNews Daily - 19 August 2019

US congressional delegation visits Central America

Colombia: On 8 August, the US government issued a  Memorandum on the Presidential Determination on Major Drug Transit or Major Illicit Drug Producing Countries for Fiscal Year 2020 which hailed the Colombian government led by President Iván Duque for making “early progress in rolling back the record-high coca cultivation and cocaine production levels inherited from his predecessor [Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018)] and in leading efforts to restart a Colombian-led aerial eradication program”. The US document identified 22 countries as major transit or illicit drug producing countries, including Mexico, Venezuela, and Bolivia. In an 9 August press conference, Colombia’s foreign minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said that US President Donald Trump had “indicated his government would continue working with Colombia to reach the five-year goal to half the coca crop cultivation by the end of 2023”. The US’s praise for the Duque government’s efforts comes after on 2 August the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) report on coca cultivation, which found that this had fallen by 1.16% in Colombia in 2018 to 169,000 hectares from 171,000 hectares the year before. However, Pierre Lapaque, UNODC’s representative in Colombia noted that, “Colombia is still at the highest levels of coca cultivation since the count began in 2011”.

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