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Latin America Praised in Drug War

April 23, 1998

MIAMI (AP) _ Latin American countries that used to see drugs as a U.S. problem have grown more cooperative now that their own young people and economies are suffering, White House drug policy chief Barry McCaffrey said.

``Now there is a common viewpoint,″ he said in Miami on Wednesday on his way home from the Summit of the Americas in Chile.

Many Latin American countries, including Chile and Argentina, were largely unaffected by drugs several years ago, but now see increasing addiction among teen-agers, economic distortion from money laundering and environmental damage from drug-making chemicals, McCaffrey said.

He said the growing threat is helping move the drug war past a series of confrontations between the United States and top drug-producing countries like Colombia and Bolivia.

Congress in 1986 mandated a yearly certification of countries based on their cooperation with anti-drug measures. The process, which carries a threat of economic sanctions, has caused resentment in the countries being judged.

``In the near term, we will not see this national certification law of the United States changed,″ McCaffrey said. ``But I do believe that as we create this multinational cooperation, we will make irrelevant what has turned out to be quite a confrontational process.″

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