Haiti Urged To Crack Down on Drugs
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ U.S. Army Secretary Louis Caldera urged Haiti’s president Wednesday to take tough measures to fight a rising tide of drugs flowing through this Caribbean nation.
``Drug traffickers have made Haiti a key transit point for the flow of drugs from Colombia to Europe and the Untied States,″ Caldera said after what he termed ``a very candid discussion″ with President Rene Preval.
Caldera said he encouraged Preval to push for laws to combat money laundering and corruption and to facilitate the extradition of drug traffickers wanted by the United States.
Drugs passing through countries like Haiti have the ``ability to corrupt political institutions, including elected leaders, judges, police officers, prosecutors,″ Caldera said.
Thomas Umberg, a deputy director of the White House drug policy office, estimated that 330 tons of cocaine head annually from South America to the United States.
About 12 percent of that _ 3,600 tons _ transits the island of Hispaniola which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Caldera met with Dominican President Leonel Fernandez on Tuesday.
While Haiti, with U.S. help, has reduced drug shipments by sea, Umberg said there were more drug trafficking flights coming into the country. Haiti allows U.S. ships and aircraft to pursue suspected drug vessels into Haitian waters and airspace.
But Haiti’s anti-drug efforts have been hampered by politics. After a protracted dispute, Preval dissolved parliament last year, putting all legislation on hold. New legislative elections are scheduled for March 19.
In addition, Haiti’s legal system is notoriously ineffectual.