In a recent document published by the White House entitled “Memorandum on Presidential Determination on Major Drug Transit or Major Illicit Drug Producing Countries for Fiscal Year 2024”, President Joe Biden named five Caribbean Countries among countries considered as major drug transit or major illicit drug producing countries. 

The countries named on the list are The Bahamas, Belize, Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. 

These countries were listed alongside Afghanistan, Bolivia, Burma, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.

“By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including section 706(1) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003 (Public Law 107-228) (FRAA), I hereby identify the following countries as major drug transit or major illicit drug producing countries:  Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Burma, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela”, he said. 

As explained by President Biden, inclusion on the list does not necessarily reflect the counterdrug efforts being made by each country’s government or its level of cooperation with the United States. 

Instead, the decision to include a country is based on a combination of geographic, commercial, and economic factors that facilitate drug transit or production.

Despite a recent flattening of drug overdose deaths in the United States after years of sharp increases, more than 109,000 lives were lost to drug overdoses in 2022, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

President Biden emphasised the importance of international partners’ political commitment to achieving success against illicit drug threats.

“The vast majority of illicit drugs causing the most damage in the United States originate from beyond our borders, and our most effective means of reducing the availability of these drugs is to expand and improve our cooperation with international partners.  Most drug overdose deaths within the United States involve illicit synthetic drugs and particularly synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.  These synthetic drugs can be produced anywhere using precursor chemicals widely available for legitimate purposes, at a fraction of the cost and time it takes criminal organizations to produce dangerous drugs from plants”, he said. 

Additionally, President Biden designated Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela as countries that have demonstrably failed to fulfil their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements and take the required measures outlined in section 489(a)(1) of the FAA.

“Pursuant to section 706(2)(A) of the FRAA, I hereby designate Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela as having failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to both adhere to their obligations under the international counternarcotics agreements and to take the measures required by section 489(a)(1) of the FAA.  Included with this determination are justifications for the designations of Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela, as required by section 706(2)(B) of the FRAA.  I have also determined, in accordance with provisions of section 706(3)(A) of the FRAA, that United States programs that support Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela are vital to the national interests of the United States”, he said.