News Daily Spot: William Brownfield: For drug traffickers, Venezuela is the most efficient route

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William Brownfield: For drug traffickers, Venezuela is the most efficient route

In the United States there is concern about the increase in coca production in Colombia, but also in consumption in that country. William Brownfield, Assistant Secretary of State for Narcotics Affairs Section of the United States, was in Colombia as part of a US committee working on the problem, and spoke with El Tiempo of Colombia.

Should we adjust nuts on drug interdiction?

One of the lessons of mine, and I have 25 years experience in the effort against illicit drug, is what you just said is that no strategy is so perfect that requires no adjustments during its existence. At this time in both countries, but I think in all the countries concerned and that means almost 100 percent of the countries of the world, we are in a time of adjustment. In the US for example, we discovered that we had eight years dramatically reduced cocaine use by more than 50 percent does, but then discovered that heroin use has grown considerably and requires changes in our policy. Now you begin to see in the United States increased cocaine and again here in Colombia a rise in cultivation and cocaine production see, that require amendments. Moreover, in Colombia there are other things going on: one is the peace process and the impact it will have on the issue of efforts against illicit drugs; Second, the sovereign decision of the government of Colombia to stop doing spraying of glyphosate, by interpretation of a statement by the World Health Organization, this is not bad, I think you have to adjust strategies and policies frequently, if not we were frozen in the past.

Then match the increased production of cocaine in Colombia with the increase in consumption in the United States?

The figures suggest that our increased consumption in the United States probably started a couple of years ago, and no synchronization between increased cultivation, production and consumption there. There is always a relationship between demand and supply, or alternatively supply and demand, and I think the challenge for both governments is to develop the set policy to control cultivation and production in Colombia, which is important for Colombia, and controlling consumption in the United States . Let's make that policy a fairly simple reason: we are friendly governments, allies, partners, and we will find the right formula, also because we have the same objectives.

Does the signing of the end of the conflict with the FARC will reduce the supply of illicit drugs, as President Santos think?

Again, I reiterate and affirm that the government of the United States supports the efforts of the government of Colombia to reach an agreement to end the conflict in his 50s that has afflicted both the Colombian people and has produced so much damage, death and misery. Now the US government has said that the FARC are one of the largest drug trafficking organizations in the world, in other words, when we talk about drugs, cocaine, include the FARC in the group top 10, maybe the top 5 in the world, so I hope that if the government of the United States supports the efforts of the Colombian government to do so, we will have to make policy changes of the past, and both governments have the same goal: we want to reduce and eventually eliminate the cultivation and illicit drug production, supply and consumption in the US Colombia. States with the same goal.; the only thing for us is to talk tactics, have the same strategy, the question is how best to do that operating tactics.

Does the suspension of spraying glyphosate will affect the increase in coca production in Colombia?

It is too early to make a decision. Colombia's government is sovereign and decided to end the spraying of glyphosate, and we are in dialogue to see what is the right tactic to replace spraying efforts that have been made over the last 20 years or so. Now manual eradication as part of the solution is a new tactic.

Perhaps ban will have to do more sophisticated efforts, more scientific, to cut the transit of the product, part of the solution may be a policy, a more sophisticated strategy to attack organizations as 'bacrim' and others who deal with the product.

And finally I imagine part of the solution is more international collaboration and coordination between Colombia and Mexico, Colombia and Central America, Colombia and its Caribbean neighbors. Colombia and its neighbor to the east (Venezuela), which is so complicated in many ways and of course Colombia and the United States. Right now we are in a difficult time and that's why I'm here.

What do you know of the collaboration of Venezuela on drugs?

It is estimated that the vast majority, more than half of illicit proceeds in Colombia, passing through the territory of the neighboring country, suggesting that for some reason have decided that drug traffickers that route is the most economical and efficient for them. But we can improve collaboration.

Drug trafficking is a string. In what or what links must apply stronger adjustments sooner?

First, keep some attention and focus on each link, possibly ignore any failure occurs. Sure, there are priorities. The other point is where you have to adjust? That is the most important. I would say you need to see some concrete facts and science, and the fact is that coca cultivation in Colombia has risen the past year; and worse, science suggests that this 2015 will see a higher increase because last year many of the plants were new and scientifically we know that in its first year the coca plant produces very little, then produce more. You have to focus on something in that reality, without blame, I must say that's a reality we have to attack.

To attack crops should be prioritized?

I have to confess: I represent the government of the United States and my country has a problem of increasing demand, we must focus efforts our fighting this reality with education, rehabilitation, treatment and to some extent efforts to convince my fellow citizens not to increase the demand.

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