Under the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (FAA), the President is required each year to notify Congress of those countries he determines to be major illicit drug-producing countries or major drug-transit countries that “significantly affect the United States.” A country’s presence on the list does not necessarily reflect its counternarcotics efforts or its level of cooperation on illegal drug control with the United States. The designation can reflect a combination of geographic, commercial, and economic factors that allow drugs to be produced and/or trafficked through a country.
When a country on the list does not fulfill its obligations under international counternarcotics agreements and conventions, the President determines that the country has “failed demonstrably” to meet its counterdrug obligations. Such a designation can lead to sanctions. However, the President may also execute a waiver when he determines there is a vital national interest in continuing U.S. assistance. Even without such a waiver, humanitarian assistance and counternarcotics assistance may continue.
This year the President has identified 22 countries as major drug-producing or drug-transit countries: Afghanistan, the Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. Belize and El Salvador are new to the list this year.
Of these 22, the President has determined that three countries, Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela, “failed demonstrably” during the last 12 months to make sufficient or meaningful efforts to adhere to the obligations they have undertaken under international counternarcotics agreements. In the cases of Bolivia and Venezuela, the President has waived possible sanctions under U.S. law, so that the United States may continue to support specific programs to benefit the Bolivian and Venezuelan people.