Colombia and the United States recognize that complex problems, such as drug trafficking, are a shared responsibility that requires long-term solutions and a comprehensive policy response.
Colombian President Ivan Duque and U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Philip Goldberg opened a preparatory meeting of the Counternarcotics Working Group in Bogota on June 23 in which they reviewed 2020 results and reiterated their commitment to cooperate on a wide range of counternarcotics activities.
Despite COVID-19 challenges, Colombia, in close collaboration with the U.S. government, achieved record levels of cocaine seizures and manual eradication in 2020 and is on pace to achieve equally impressive results in 2021.
Discussions centered on a holistic approach to counternarcotics efforts in Colombia, including programs to increase government territorial control, transition coca farmers to legal economic opportunities, support citizen security, disrupt drug trafficking supply chains including the interdiction of chemical precursors, increase seizures of cocaine and bulk cash shipments, continue eradication, arrest and extradite drug kingpins, reduce money laundering, and strengthen asset forfeiture.
Both governments expressed strong support for Colombia’s increasingly successful effort to transform rural cocaine-based economies to legal alternatives through a broad-based program of economic development, infrastructure, security, and institutional strengthening known as “Zonas Futuro.”
Colombian and U.S. representatives agreed on the importance of efforts to protect rainforests from exploitation by criminal groups.
Today’s meeting also included technical discussions on varying methodologies currently utilized to measure trends in cocaine production and coca cultivation to ensure continuous improvement in our counternarcotics policies and programs.
The meeting advanced preparations for the upcoming U.S.-Colombia High-Level Dialogue, which will be held in Bogota later this year as the principal forum to discuss all aspects of the bilateral relationship. The High-Level Dialogue facilitates coordination on wide-ranging issues including economic opportunity; development; security and counternarcotics efforts; educational exchanges; environmental issues; democracy, good governance, and human rights; health, and many others.
While the U.S. – Colombia bilateral relationship is based on cooperation in many areas of mutual interest, both sides reaffirmed the strong counternarcotics partnership, which is critical to disrupting the cocaine supply chain, reducing demand, and tackle the global drug problem.
The United States and Colombia also recognize the need to reduce drug use and its negative consequences including drug overdose, through effective prevention and treatment programs. As our ongoing discussions demonstrate, Colombia and the United States recognize that complex problems, such as narcotics trafficking, are a shared responsibility requiring long-term solutions and holistic policy response.