HAVANA TIMES — Cuba hopes to continue cooperating with the United States in the fight against drugs, although the latter has suspended high level meetings on this issue, dpa reports.
“We hope that he (US president Donald Trump) doesn’t renounce the effective cooperation efforts that Cuba can offer, just because of his new policy, because this is in the best interests of both Nations,” Antonio Israel Ibarra, the secretary of the National Anti-Drug Committee at the Ministry of Justice, affirmed at a press conference.
In July 2016, Cuba and the United States signed a cooperation agreement to fight against drug trafficking. Commisions from both countries have held four meetings with high-ranking officials during Barack Obama’s presidency, but ever since Trump has come to the White House, these exchanges have been suspended.
The meeting that was set to take place in the first semester of the year, should have taken place in Washington, but the US party canceled the meeting and postponed it without setting a definite date, Ibarra pointed out.
The agreements were made between the Obama administration and the Cuban government to improve the exchange of information between US and Cuban Coast Guards, establishing “direct communication channels.”
They also agreed that two annual meeting between high-ranking officials would take place so as to follow up on the exchange of information and operations that have taken place.
On June 16th, Trump announced that he was cracking down on Washington’s relationship with Havana by imposing travel restrictions on US citizens traveling to the island and the ban on US companies doing business with those companies that belong to the Cuban Armed Forces.
In spite of Trump’s harsh tone in his speech that he gave in a Miami theater, the Republican has said that he will maintain the diplomatic relations that were reestablished during Obama’s presidency.
Cuba does not have much of a national drug market, but it is located in the middle of a natural drug smuggling route which drug traffickers use to transport drugs from Central and South America to the United States.
Cuban authorities have shown that they are willing to uphold their cooperation efforts with the United States relating to this issue.
During 2016, Cuban authorities seized over 1,700 kgs of drugs, especially from traffickers who were heading towards the United States.
Throughout the first five months of 2017, this figure of drug interception has tripled when compared to the same period last year, sources from the Cuban Ministry of Justice have revealed.
Ibarra highlighted the fact that the increase in drug seizures has been the result of good communication in a technical sense between anti-drug agencies in both countries, even when political dialogue on this issue seems to be paralyzed.