On March 12, I was invited to NTN24’s Cuestión de Poder to discuss the findings of our latest report on the realities of drug trafficking and corruption in Venezuela (see full interview above, in Spanish). As I mention, our report uses official U.S. government data on transnational cocaine shipments to gauge the scale and relative importance of Venezuela’s role as a transit country from 2012-mid-2019, and relies primarily on the interagency Consolidated Counterdrug Database (CCDB). As we demonstrate, Venezuela is not a primary transit country for U.S.-bound cocaine.

This matters because we are seeing an alarming resurgence of rhetoric coming from some U.S. officials that has sought to exaggerate the scale of Venezuela’s importance to the international cocaine trade, usually in the context of arguing that a peaceful, democratic, and negotiated solution to the crisis is unattainable. In a background call on February 5, 2020, for instance, a senior Trump administration official told journalists that Nicolas Maduro “has turned Venezuela into a narco state, which has become a primary point of narcotics trafficking to Central America, Mexico, therefore the United States.” As we demonstrate, it is factually incorrect that Venezuela is a primary route for drug trafficking to the United States.

None of this should be taken as opposing the reality: that there is widespread corruption in Venezuela and clear evidence of penetration of the state by organized criminal groups. Our goal is to focus on empowering the Venezuelan people who in their vast majority support a negotiated, peaceful return to democracy. We seek to debunk false narratives that political actors use to disempower the Venezuelan people, and that’s why we’re highlighting what the U.S. government’s own data actually says.