Guest blogger James Bosworth says that while Venezuela is arguably promoting drug trafficking, Bolivia's anti-drug efforts seem on a par with US allies – making US criticism seem sour grapes.
To the point such designations are worthwhile, the case for Venezuela is fairly clear. There are several senior government and military officials currently under sanction for their role in drugs or arms trafficking. President Hugo Chavez, unfortunately, doesn't take the issue seriously enough to do anything about it. In fact, he tends to promote the people who the US designates as drug traffickers, just to annoy us. Having a known drug trafficker as the top military official in the country is reason enough to say Venezuela is failing in their obligations.
The case for Bolivia is less clear. Yes, Bolivia has some problems with drug production and trafficking, but so do most countries in the hemisphere (including the US). There were some current and former officials arrested this year for ties to drug trafficking, but corruption is also prevalent in many countries (for example, Colombia's former intel chief was sentenced to prison this week for working with drug-trafficking paramilitary groups). As far as I know, there is no public information indicating that the Bolivian government is tolerating organized crime within its ranks. Bolivia is not cooperating with the DEA, kicked out the US ambassador, and allows a certain amount of legal coca growth, but if this is based on those issues, that is a stretch.