The U.S. has added tiny El Salvador and Belize to its list of drug producing and transit countries, placing for the first time all seven Central American nations on the list in a sign of how awash in illegal narcotics the region has become, McClatchy Newspapers report. President Obama condemned Venezuela and Bolivia for having “failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to make substantial efforts” in combating narcotics. Burma also was declared a failure.
Of the 22 countries on the list, only five are not in the Western Hemisphere: Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Burma, and Laos. Bolivia is one of the major producers of cocaine, while Venezuela is increasingly being used as a transshipment point for drugs that are on their way to Central America and northward to the United States. Leaders of those two nations are both highly critical of Washington. Obama said Afghanistan remains the world’s top grower of opium poppy, used for making heroin, but reported that poppy cultivation had fallen by a third in Helmand Province because of an incentive program for farmers and increased law enforcement action.