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How to Improve U.S. Counternarcotics Policy in Latin America

Interviewee: Markus Schultze-Kraft
Interviewer: Stephanie Hanson
April 28, 2008

Billions have been spent to fight cocaine production and trafficking in Latin America. Yet both set new records in 2007. Markus Schultze-Kraft, Latin America program director at the International Crisis Group, discusses policies that the United States, Europe, and Latin American countries should adopt to combat drug trafficking in the region. “Increasingly sophisticated” transnational drug trafficking organizations are expanding across Latin America and into West Africa, he says. Such organizations have infiltrated many state institutions in Latin America, including the police and the judiciary. Schultze-Kraft says it is important to strengthen the police at the federal level, and then look at improving cooperation between federal, state, and municipal police forces.

Regarding current U.S. and EU counternarcotics policies, Schultze-Kraft says “None of them are producing the results that are desired.” As a result, U.S. and EU policymakers should seek advice from one another in the areas that each has expertise. The United States can learn from Europe’s harm reduction programs, he suggests, and the Europeans can learn from the U.S. experience with alternative development in Colombia. Schultze-Kraft stresses that demand reduction is “the most important issue at hand right now.”

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