U.S. President Donald Trump is doubling down on his blackmail strategy as part of his administration's foreign policy as he vowed to cut aid and impose sanctions on countries that refuse to take deportees from the U.S. as well as countries that “allow drugs” into the United States.
“If they don’t take ‘em back, we’ll put sanctions on the countries, we’ll put tariffs on the countries,” Trump said during a briefing with officials at the Customs and Border Protection National Targeting Center in Virginia according to the Associated Press. “They’ll take ‘em back so fast your head would spin.” The U.S. would also cut aid to countries that refuse to take deportees Trump said, arguing that they “would take them back in two seconds” after the U.S. aid is cut.
He also made the same threat towards countries in Central and South America because “they’re pouring drugs into our country and they're laughing at us.”
He argued that it would be easier for the governments of those countries to stop drug production and trafficking than it is for the United States to stop it from arriving.
"I want to stop the aid. If they can't stop drugs from coming in, 'cause they can stop them a lot easier than us. They say, 'oh we can't control it.' Oh great, we're supposed to control it," the U.S. president said during the same meeting.
"So we give them billions and billions of dollars, and they don't do what they're supposed to be doing, and they know that. But we're going to take a very harsh action."
Such comments, as the case with many made by the U.S. president, do not reflect reality and ignore Washington’s own responsibility in creating and maintaining the drug industry and the immigration crisis in many countries in Central and South America.
The United States has dumped billions of dollars into Central American security forces in recent years in the name of a militarized war on drugs. The approach, now widely regarded as a failure, has increased corruption, deteriorated human rights and exacerbated conditions that led to mass migration, with nothing to show in terms of the stated goals of curbing trafficking.
According to the Washington Office on Latin America, the over-US$1.5 billion Merida Initiative with Mexico and US$642 million Central American Regional Security Initiative, both launched in 2008, have supported local security forces accused of corruption, links to drug cartels, and complicity in human rights violations.
Such funding has helped to uphold, if not worsen, historical inequality, widespread violence, drug trafficking, impunity and human rights abuses, which in turn have led to the marginalization of Indigenous and campesino populations in those countries, whose only option is to flee the country towards the U.S..
The same trend follows in other drug war-ridden countries. In Colombia, U.S. has spent US$10 billion since the year 2000 as part of the Plan Colombia initiative. Over the same time period, Colombia spent US$200 billion on the drug war, meanwhile, the country's does not seem to make much progress in organized crime and drug trafficking.
“Plan Colombia and the Merida Initiative have had devastating social consequences, spurring violence and terror, spiking murder rates, pushing up disappearances, and increasing forced displacement,” Dawn Paley, a Central and South America-based journalist and the author of Drug War Capitalism, wrote in an opinion piece for teleSUR.