- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 2, 2003

The White House said Burma, Guatemala and Haiti have "failed demonstrably" to make substantial efforts in the past year to meet international drug-control standards.
"The Guatemalan government's counternarcotics performance deteriorated substantially in 2002," said Paul Simons, acting assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs during a briefing to outline President Bush's narcotics certification determinations for 2003.
"Specifically, narcotics seizures and narcotics-related prosecutions were sharply down. Police stole twice the quantity of drugs that they officially seized, and they were identified with drug-related extrajudicial executions of both narco-traffickers and civilians," he said on Friday.
Guatemala was among 23 countries graded on their counternarcotics performance last year. Mr. Bush can impose economic sanctions against those countries that do not comply with accepted anti-drug policies, although he waived sanctions for Guatemala and Haiti based on national- security concerns.
"These two countries will receive assistance, notwithstanding their counternarcotics performance," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer Friday. It is the first time Guatemala had made the list.
The 22 other countries named on the president's "major drugs" list are Afghanistan, Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Thailand, Venezuela and Vietnam.
Mr. Simons noted that the Guatemalan government has reopened negotiations with the United States on a maritime counternarcotics agreement and has begun regularly destroying newly confiscated drugs not needed for evidence.
Mr. Bush also noted his concern over an "alarming increase" in the quantity of illegal synthetic drugs entering the United States, especially Ecstasy from Europe. He said a significant amount of the Ecstasy consumed in this country was manufactured clandestinely in the Netherlands.
He said the United States was working "closely" with Dutch authorities to stop the production and export of Ecstasy, "which we both regard as a serious threat to our citizens."
Mr. Bush said he expects Dutch authorities to move effectively and measurably in the coming year against the production and export of the drug, including dismantling labs and proceeding against trafficking organizations.
The president also said he was concerned that Canada had become a primary source of pseudoephedrine and an increasing source of high-potency marijuana, which are exported to the United States. Pseudoephedrine diverted from Canada is used at clandestine drug laboratories in this country to produce methamphetamine.
"The government of Canada, for the most part, has not regulated the sale and distribution of precursor chemicals," Mr. Bush said, adding that regulations to restrict the availability of pseudoephedrine "should be stronger."
With regard to Guatemala, federal authorities have been concerned about that country as a partner in the international war on drugs because of its growing involvement as a major trans-shipment point for cocaine and heroin bound for the United States.
Law-enforcement authorities and others said the Bush administration has also focused on rising corruption in Guatemala, including within the government, and on President Alfonso Portillo's reported friendship with reputed criminals.
Last year, Mr. Portillo was accused of opening bank accounts in Panama to embezzle state funds. He denied the accusations. A top Guatemalan official, Francisco Ortega Menaldo, a close adviser to Mr. Portillo, had his visa revoked last year by the U.S. government on suspicion of his involvement in smuggling and drug trafficking.
A report by the U.S.-based research organization Hemisphere Initiatives also cited links between the Guatemalan government and organized crime, saying a clandestine network involving members of the judiciary and security forces has blocked criminal investigations and pressured judges.

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