Asa Hutchinson
Drug Enforcement Administration
International Drug Enforcement Conference
Closing Remarks
Santa Cruz, Bolivia
March 07, 2002


photo - Administrator Hutchinson
Administrator Hutchinson

photo - Bolivia

photo - President George W. Bush
George W. Bush

It is my honor to express thanks to each delegate, observer, and the Secretariat staff for your hard work in making this 20th IDEC meeting the largest and most significant in history.

As we all know, many friendships are developed during this conference. Friendships that will yield more cooperation and greater successes in the future in our fight against drugs. I have made many.

I value the friendship with the President of this conference-Oswaldo Antezana-who not only knows how to lead a conference of this magnitude with fairness and graciousness-but the Vice Minister from Cochobaba also knows how to entertain.

I'd like to express my sincerest thanks and appreciation to the Minister of Government Jose Luis Lupo. Also, a deep debt of gratitude goes to the Government of Bolivia for its support of this conference. Congratulations to the new IDEC President Carlos Bares of Panama.

I would advise you that President George W. Bush has extended official greetings to the delegates by written communication from the White House.

I'm grateful for the opportunity I've had here in Bolivia this week. I had a chance to really talk and listen to narcotics officers from over 50 nations-officers from all over Central and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. And I observed three things about participants here:

--First, your thirst for information. You all want to learn about drug trends your counterparts are seeing. You want to know how each other solved problems and made the most of resources.

--Second, I noticed your respect for each other. You truly value each other's experiences and cultures and the challenges each face in their own countries.

--And the third similarity is our shared values. We all are in this line of work for one reason: to reduce drugs that destroy all that is good in our nations.

Yesterday, I took time to go to the Santa Cruz headquarters of the Bolivian National Police. In December, the police building was car bombed, and 30 police officers were injured. Four months later, the building has not yet been repaired. I expressed my sympathy and support to the Commander.

In interviews, I commented to the Bolivian media that when law enforcement is attacked anywhere, it should be considered an attack upon the rule of law everywhere.

It is also true that a victory for law enforcement anywhere-becomes a strengthening of the rule of law everywhere.

When the law triumphs over lawlessness in Mexico or Bolivia or Brazil or Belize-we all become stronger in the security and safety of our nations. Surely all of civil society is strengthened.

It is for that reason we must continue our fight against lawlessness with the strongest commitment to international cooperation.

Our two great challenges are the threats to civil society from drug trafficking and from terrorism. And the greatest challenge of all is when the two become combined.

Drugs and terrorism attack the vital organs of civilization and this conference strengthens the foundation of our trust, cooperation, and enthusiasm for the great responsibility we have to the nations we serve, the families we protect, and the cause of justice. Thank you. ##

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