Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, September 15, 2003

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For IMMEDIATE Release

Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere
U.S. Rep. Cass Ballenger, Chairman

Rep. Cass Ballenger Comments on Certification of Guatemala

(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Rep. Cass Ballenger commented on the certification of Guatemala under the Annual Presidential Determinations of Major Illicit Drug-Producing and Drug-Transit Countries:

“The Bush Administration has determined that the government of Guatemala took the minimal number of steps needed to avoid being found to have ‘demonstrably failed’ to cooperate with U.S. counter-narcotics efforts. The ratification of a bilateral maritime interdiction agreement in particular is seen as a significant step forward.”

“Clearly, the Guatemalan government has not taken every step needed to investigate, arrest and bring drug kingpins to justice. Corruption at all levels of the government continues to be an obstacle to full cooperation with the U.S. This certification is not an end to this process.”

“President Bush stated clearly: ‘I expect Guatemala to continue its efforts and to demonstrate further progress in the coming year.’ Any backsliding by the government of Guatemala should be, in my considered opinion, met with decertification. I look forward to reviewing the situation in Guatemala at a congressional hearing at an early date.”

Rep. Ballenger added, “The Bush Administration, for its part, must now redouble U.S. counter-narcotics assistance to Guatemala, including returning U.S. counter-drug helicopters to that country.”

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