During a last-minute meeting scheduled between Colombia’s President Ivan Duque and Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, DC Trump in direct terms told Duque that Colombia will have to resume aerial fumigation of illegal coca crops with glyphosate. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in herbicides such as Roundup.
The coca plant is the primary ingredient in cocaine. Illegal actors cultivate it in remote areas of Colombia & other South American countries.
Illicit coca cultivation in Colombia is at an all time high, and the current administration of Ivan Duque seems unable to reverse the trend. At the closed-door Washington meeting, where the Colombian president once worked as a technocrat in multilateral organizations, Trump indicated that several items were on the agenda including trade, borders, drugs and drug trafficking.
An excerpt of remarks prior to the meeting:
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, thank you very much. It’s my honor to have the President of Colombia with us. We have many things to discuss, including borders and trade and, unfortunately, drugs and drug trafficking. And we’re going to have a good, long session.
This was scheduled very quickly, over the weekend, and we look forward to meeting. We’re going to have representatives on both sides. Many things to talk about.
And thank you very much, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT DUQUE: Thank you so much, Mr. President. It’s always an honor to be here. As you know, we have been strong allies, not only defending democracy in the region, but also fighting corruption and drug trafficking. You know the commitment we have jointly against those terrible threats.
So it’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you so much, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’ve been working very well together on drugs and on trafficking — beyond drugs, trafficking and drugs, and trafficking and lots of other things. Unfortunately, human trafficking, which has become a very big problem.
Q President Trump, what do you think about the efforts of Colombian government to fight against drugs? Do you agree with the aerial spraying with glyphosate?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, you’re going to have to spray. If you don’t spray, you’re not going to get rid of them. So you have to spray, with regard to the drugs in Colombia. Yeah.
Q Are you going to talk about Venezuela?
PRESIDENT DUQUE: And let me —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes, we will.
PRESIDENT DUQUE: — add something that is very important. We have to combine all the elements that we have: obviously, precision spraying, but also the record highs that we reached in 2019 on manual eradication and also dismantling the drug cartels.
So we have to work on all the elements, and we have to be very strong against crime. That crime is hurting our people and it’s hurting people everywhere. And we need to work jointly in that effort, as we have been doing so far.
Q Regarding Venezuela, what’s next steps from the United States, helping the region?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’re talking about Venezuela. One of the things we’re talking about is Venezuela. A big subject for us. And they’re treating the people of Venezuela unbelievably badly. They don’t have water, they don’t have food. They don’t have anything. And we are talking about that. That’s a big — that’s a big topic of discussion.
Q What do you want to hear from —
PRESIDENT DUQUE: Mr. President, if I may add something to that.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes, please.
PRESIDENT DUQUE: It’s very important that we are stronger on sanctions against a dictatorship in Venezuela. Venezuela is running out of things. They have destroyed all the healthcare system. So we have to, in this year, work together jointly so there’s a political and democratic transition that is effective in Venezuela.
Photo courtesy US Government