[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

#2647: Cocaine traffic through Haiti up 24 percent in 1999 (fwd)


Cocaine traffic through Haiti up 24 percent in 1999

WASHINGTON, March 1 (Reuters) - The cocaine traffic through the Caribbean 
state of Haiti increased about 24 percent in 1999 and the government again 
failed the U.S. test for cooperation against drugs, the State Department said 
on Wednesday. 

But Washington waived a ban on U.S. aid to the impoverished 

country, partly for fear that Haitian migrants will head for U.S. shores in 
fragile boats. 

``Haiti cooperated in some anti-drug actions last year but it did not meet 
the standard for certification,'' said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, 
releasing an annual report on the anti-drug efforts of foreign governments. 

``A national interest waiver was granted in order to preserve our own ability 
to interrupt the flow of narcotics and to deter undocumented Haitian migrants 
from risking their lives on unsafe vessels headed for the United States,'' 
she added. 

The waiver enables the U.S. administration to continue providing aid, despite 
the government's drug record. 

The report said some 67 tonnes of cocaine from South America passed through 
Haiti in 1999, up from a U.S. government estimate of 54 tons in 1998. 

It accounts for nearly 14 percent of all the cocaine reaching the United 
States, against 10 percent in 1998. 

``Aircraft are flying through Venezuelan air space, landing in daylight and 
darkness in Haiti, and offloading cocaine,'' President Bill Clinton's chief 
drug buster, Barry McCaffrey, told a briefing on the annual report. 

``Haiti is the poorest nation in our hemisphere, with a disbanded parliament 
and a criminal justice system that has many problems. This has made it ... a 
staging area for the large and sophisticated international drug- trafficking 
syndicates,'' added Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder. 

The report paints a grim picture of U.S. efforts to persuade the Haitian 
government to crack down on drugs. 

In 1999 the authorities seized less than one third of the amount of cocaine 
they seized in 1998 and the police deployed none of the 25 new officers it 
had pledged for the drug squad. 

``The judicial system continued to move slowly, and while numerous drug cases 
were handed to the system for investigation, there were no drug 
convictions,'' it said. 

``Corruption continues to spread throughout the GOH (government of Haiti), 
despite official iterations that it must not be tolerated,'' it added.