From the Editors of VenEconomy
A series of shocking and still incomprehensible events has taken place in Aruba since last Thursday with the arrest of the former director of Venezuela’s Military Intelligence (DIM), retired Army General Hugo Carvajal.
The events go as follows:
- Detention of Hugo Carvajal by the authorities of Aruba (a Dutch colony) at the request of the U.S. government for alleged drug trafficking and links with Colombia’s FARC narco-terrorist group.
- After his arrest, controversy arose over the diplomatic credentials of Carvajal. He had been appointed consul in Aruba in January of this year, but he never received the OK (or the exequatur) of the Netherlands government after seven months. This issue was resolved by a court in Aruba after determining that the arrest was in accordance with the law.
- Carvajal gets immediate solidarity from the government of Nicolás Maduro. Venezuela described this action as “kidnapping” and threatened both Aruba and the Netherlands if Carvajal was not immediately released. Then it suspended (and revoked a few hours later) all flights to and from Aruba.
- The Government pulled all its diplomatic strings and gets the Netherlands to recognize the diplomatic status of Carvajal in the early hours of Sunday, July 27. Carvajal was then released and taken to Caracas, where he was welcomed as a hero. What Maduro could not do anything about was Peter Blanken, chief prosecutor in Aruba, declaring Carvajal to be “persona non grata,” a reason for which he may never return to the island. With this action, Blanken left fears and vulnerabilities behind as a sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of Carvajal and other Venezuelan government officials identified by their ties with international narco-terrorism organizations.
The interest of the U.S. in apprehending Carvajal is derived from several years of investigations linking Carvajal with the coordination of Venezuela support to FARC terrorists and their use of Venezuela as a bridge for sending drugs to the U.S. and Europe as well as having ties with the Hezbollah Islamist militant group. The U.S. Department of the Treasury is accusing him (along with army generals Cliver Alcalá Cordones, Ramón Rodríguez Chacín and Henry Rangel Silva) of taking part of the so-called “Cartel of the Suns.” And he is also being linked to the case of a major seizure of drugs contained in an Air France flight that was departing from Caracas’ Maiquetía airport late last year.
And the theories behind Carvajal’s release are:
- That the Dutch acted to “protect” the interests of Dutch-based companies in Venezuela, with Royal Dutch Shell and Unilever being the most outstanding.
- That PDVSA threatened to halt oil supplies to a refinery in Curacao.
- That the Chinese also exerted pressure on the Netherlands over the interests they have in Aruba.
- That Russia pressured the Netherlands the same way it did not to react in light of a recent attack on a commercial aircraft flying within the airspace of Ukraine, where 153 Dutch passengers died.
- That the Queen of the Netherlands was born in Argentina, and therefore Cristina Fernández resorted to her good offices… anyway, theories come and go!
What is for certain is that no one understands why the Netherlands backed out on its decision, thus disregarding a ruling of an Aruba court and leaving the DEA and the U.S. standing in the lurch, with the Department of State saying the country was “extremely disappointed.”
Another great uncertainty is why the U.S. delayed its request for extradition if for months Carvajal has been facing at least six different judicial processes.
There is also speculation about whether it was really a detention or a previously agreed delivery with the DEA. However, a fact related to the Carvajal case still remains in the air: The arrest two days after that of Carvajal of former Venezuelan justice Benny Palmeri-Bacchi at the Miami International Airport when he was preparing to take his family on a two-week vacation in Disney World.
Also unknown are the future implications for the government of Maduro, who has already been seen and photographed giving spontaneous hugs to characters who, just like Carvajal, are strongly linked to drug trafficking and international terrorism.VenEconomy has been a leading provider of consultancy on financial, political and economic data in Venezuela since 1982.
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