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News > Latin America

Evo Morales Chastises Obama for Anti-Drug Fight Criticism

  • Bolivian President Evo Morales

    Bolivian President Evo Morales | Photo: EFE

Published 14 September 2016

The U.S. has been one of the biggest critics of Bolivia's progressive drug policies.


This is how Bolivian President Evo Morales described U.S. President Barack Obama's criticism of Bolivia and Venezuela after the White House released its annual global drug trafficking memorandum Monday to the U.S. State Department.

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"The report is ridiculous," Morales tweeted Wednesday in response, stating that the U.S. ought to "first suspend secret banking, eliminate tax havens, and stop producing weapons and invading countries."

Obama singled out a number of Latin American countries as major drug transit and drug producing countries on Monday. Morales said that the U.S. has targeted his country because of political reasons.

In the annual memorandum to the U.S. Secretary of State, Obama named 22 countries—17 of which were from Latin America—as being accountable for the majority of the world’s drug trade.

"The U.S., as the largest consumer of drugs in the world, has no moral authority to dismiss the fight against drug trafficking of other peoples," Morales tweeted.

Obama said that Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela were not adequately adhering to the U.S. led international anti-narcotics efforts and had “failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements.”

Bolivian officials, however, say that the blacklisting is political. Morales hit back saying that the countries mentioned on Obama’s list were being targeted for refusing to fall in line with international U.S.-backed drug policy.

"You have to be neo-colonialist, pro-capitalist and pro-imperialist to be recognized by the U.S. in the fight against drug trafficking," Morales tweeted.

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Morales pointed out that many pro-U.S. states have failed to meet international agreements, with increasing drug trafficking but were not on Obama’s list. Hugo Siles, Bolivian minister of autonomy said Bolivia has been on the U.S.'s black list after the country expelled the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA, in 2008.

Morales said that without the DEA Bolivia has taken its own positive steps in anti-narcotics efforts, which have been given international praise. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, reported that Bolivia has in fact decreased coca cultivation in the last year.

Bolivia legally grows coca for medical and traditional purposes, such as coca tea, and is the only state to be exempt from an international ban, something that has continually frustrated the U.S.

Morales, a former coca farmer, has called for a more progressive and humanistic approach to illegal drug enforcement.

Obama’s memorandum noted that a number of countries, including Mexico and Colombia, had increased drug cultivation. Both were mentioned on the 22-country list, but neither were singled out to have “failed demonstrably.”

Morales' comments echoed similar views from last year when he said that the U.S.-led war on drugs was part of its geopolitical agenda to militarize Latin America and increase its influence and control on the region.

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