Retired Venezuelan General Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios was arrested in Aruba on July 23, pursuant to a request by U.S. authorities under an indictment for drug smuggling. According to sources familiar with the investigation, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and federal prosecutors in New York and Miami have been preparing much more expansive cases against Carvajal, based on crimes committed in concert with other senior officials of the Venezuelan government. The Venezuelan government is protesting Carvajal’s arrest, based on his supposed “diplomatic immunity” as consul general of Venezuela in Aruba; however, Aruban officials have stated publicly that such immunity was never granted. READ THE U.S. INDICTMENTS HERE & ... Read More
Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category
[Ed. Note: This week, retired Venezuelan Gen. Hugo Carvajal was detained in Aruba at the request of U.S. authorities. Carvajal was the former head of Venezuelan military intelligence (DGIM) and a close confidante of the late Hugo Chávez. In 2008, he was designated by U.S Treasury as a “drug kingpin” for his ties to the Colombian narco-terrorist FARC. That year also, the highly respected Colombian magazine Semana published an exposé of Carvajal that reported on his criminal associations with the FARC. The following article was translated by IASW.]
Hugo Carvajal: Hugo Chávez’s “Montesinos”
Semana Reveals the Scandalous Ties between Venezuelan General Hugo Carvajal, the FARC, and Drug Traffickers
Semana magazine (Bogotá)
February 2, 2008
There are very few people who have the luxury of having Hugo Chávez’s ear. Of that select group, one of the closest, most loyal, and who Chavez trusts the most is General Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios: the brains of Venezuelan intelligence.
Venezuela´s state-owned PdV is weighing offers to buy its US downstream subsidiary Citgo to raise cash for long-delayed upstream projects at home, augment crude supplies to China and reduce the government´s exposure to foreign litigation.
The government has received three separate offers to buy Citgo submitted through Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank, energy ministry officials tell Argus.
The banks are acting as intermediaries for potential buyers including oil companies, the officials added. The offers are in the range of $10bn to $15bn for the Citgo assets, including three US refineries with a combined nameplate crude processing capacity of 757,000 b/d, 48 products storage facilities, three wholly owned Citgo pipelines and stakes in six other US pipelines, the ministry officials added.
Citgo’s refineries include the 425,000 b/d Lake Charles refinery in Louisiana, the 165,000 b/d Corpus Christi refinery in Texas, and the 167,000 b/d Lemont refinery in Illinois.
BY KEJAL VYAS & JUAN FORERO
American probes into cocaine-smuggling to the U.S. has led to the first indictments of Venezuelan officials who worked at the top echelons of power, including a former general and a senior law-enforcement official.
Hugo Carvajal, a former chief of Venezuelan military intelligence, was detained in Aruba at the American government’s behest, officials in the Caribbean island and the U.S. said on Thursday.
Mr. Carvajal, a retired general who was awaiting confirmation as President Nicolás Maduro’s consul-general to Aruba, is the highest-ranking Venezuelan official to be arrested on a U.S. warrant. A former Venezuelan judge, Benny Palmeri-Bacchi, was arrested last week in Miami on drug-trafficking and other charges, it emerged on Thursday.
Indictments against Mr. Carvajal, Mr. Palmeri-Bacchi, and the former head of Interpol in Venezuela, Rodolfo McTurk, were unsealed on Thursday in Miami. The indictments accuse all three men of conspiring with Colombian drug traffickers to export cocaine ... Read More
The trial of one of Venezuela’s main opposition leaders, Leopoldo Lopez, has begun in the capital, Caracas.
He is accused of inciting violence during anti-government demonstrations.
Mr Lopez has been in custody since 18 February, when he handed himself in to the authorities. He denies all the charges.
Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Venezuela earlier this year in months of protests against rising inflation and crime.
Mr Lopez, 43, has accused the government of President Nicolas Maduro of jailing Venezuelans for seeking democratic change.
Other opposition activists detained during the protests have also appeared in court in Caracas..
There is heavy police presence and road blocks near the Justice Palace.
But hundreds of supporters, including Mr Lopez’s wife, Lilian Tintori, and parents, have gathered outside the court to call for his release.
‘Failed socialist policies’
The street protests began in late January, in the western states of Tachira and Merida.
U.S. Alleges Carvajal Has Ties to Drug Trafficking, Colombian Marxist Rebels
By Kejal Vyas
CARACAS, Venezuela—A former chief of Venezuela’s military intelligence agency, accused by the U.S. of having ties to drug trafficking and Colombian Marxist rebels, was detained in Aruba on a petition from the American government, officials in the Caribbean island and the U.S. confirmed Thursday.
The detention of Hugo Carvajal, a retired military general who was awaiting confirmation as President Nicolás Maduro’s consul general to Aruba, is among the highest-profile arrests of a Venezuelan citizen in a cocaine trafficking case.
In 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department had put him on a blacklist, which prohibits any American entity from doing business with him, alleging that he had protected the drug shipments of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and also provided the rebel group with weapons and logistical help.
By Juan Cristobal Nagel| Caracas Chronicles
A few months ago, Nicolás Maduro appointed former general Hugo Carvajal to be Consul General of Venezuela to the Dutch island of Aruba. Yesterday, as Carvajal laid low in the island waiting for the Dutch government to approve his position, he was detained. The US had asked the Netherlands to incarcerate and extradite him.
Carvajal was head of Venezuela’s military intelligence (DGIM) for years. A high-ranking chavista military if there ever was one, he was a close confidant of Hugo Chávez, and is suspected of aiding and abetting Colombia’s FARC guerrillas. Ironically, among other posts he also headed the National Office against Organized Crime.
This 2008 story on Carvajal by the Colombian magazine Semana (in Spanish) is well worth a read. The story includes everything: torture, drug smuggling, coordination with the guerrillas. Una joyita, puej. The money quote is a whopper:
BY LILY KUO
Chinese president Xi Jinping pledged $4 billion in loans to Venezuela while visiting president Nicolás Maduro this week. The agreement will raise Caracas’s existing debts to Beijing by almost 25%, to over $20 billion—money that the country may find it increasingly difficult to repay.
China has lent its South American partner more than $40 billion since 2008 to help Caracas shore up its ailing economy, which is expected to slip into a recession this year and has suffered from shortages ranging from medicine to toilet paper. Venezuela has been paying that money back mostly with oil, but that is getting harder to do.
Every day, about 500,000 barrels of Venezuelan oil are exported to China, half of which go to pay off the country’s loans from Beijing. As of last month, outstanding debt totaled $17 billion, according to Venezuela’s vice president for the economy. The Maduro administration plans to pay ... Read More
POR ANTONIO MARIA DELGADO
El régimen de Nicolás Maduro necesita conseguir cerca de $15,000 millones para que el desmantelamiento del sistema de control de cambio no se le salga de las manos y hunda decididamente a Venezuela en un proceso hiperinflacionario, advirtieron analistas.
El régimen, que busca desesperadamente alguna fórmula que le permita lidiar con la grave crisis económica que aflige al país, tiene previsto anunciar en agosto sus planes para unificar en una sola tasa los tres distintos tipos de cambio vigentes, ante las abundantes señales de que el esquema cambiario actual está asfixiando aceleradamente lo que aún queda del aparato productivo nacional.
Pero expertos consultados dijeron que la unificación cambiaria –plan impulsado por el zar de la economía y ministro de Energía y Minas, Rafael Ramírez– no es suficiente para lidiar con los problemas que enfrenta la economía venezolana.
BY KEJAL VYAS
Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged additional financial support to Venezuela, as the oil-rich South American nation grapples with a moribund economy and a severe squeeze on hard currency.
Mr. Xi’s commitment to deepen economic ties comes on top of the more than $40 billion China has provided in loans to Venezuela since 2008 in exchange for oil. The bulk of those funds, which have been earmarked for unfinished infrastructure and housing projects as well as imports of electronics and oil drills, have done little to turn around Venezuela’s economic fortunes.
Mr. Xi and his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolás Maduro, signed more than a dozen financial and bilateral cooperation agreements, including a renewal of a joint development fund in which China will contribute $4 billion that Venezuela will repay with an additional 100,000 barrels a day in crude.
BY EZEQUIEL MINAYA
This car-crazed country’s auto industry, once the third largest in South America, is seizing up as manufacturers struggle to produce a few vehicles a day.
Car makers, including global giants like Ford Motor Co. F +0.59% , Fiat Chrysler Automobiles F.MI -0.07% NV, General Motors Co. GM +0.84% and Toyota Motor Corp. 7203.TO +0.35% , have cut output by more than 80% in the first six months of the year compared with a year earlier because of a lack of dollars to pay parts suppliers, according to data compiled by the Automotive Chamber of Venezuela, which represents car makers.
“This is the first time I have ever seen things this bad,” said 61-year-old Antonio Lopez, a Ford worker who recently prepared a sedan for painting at the auto maker’s factory here. The cavernous Valencia pla`nt, about 110 miles west of Caracas, was quiet by midafternoon one day last month, with a ... Read More
Havana (AFP) – Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting Cuba with hopes of expanding political and economic ties in the fellow communist nation.
The tour of the Americas’ only one-party communist nation is the last leg of a weeklong trip in the region that has already taken Xi to Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela, as he reaches out to resource-rich countries often shunned by the United States and Europe.
The Chinese leader arrived in Havana late Monday from Caracas for the two-day official visit.
Xi aims to make his country — already Cuba’s second-largest trading partner after Venezuela and its primary source of credit — a major investor on the Caribbean island.
Coinciding with his trip, about 50 Chinese entrepreneurs traveled to Havana to explore business opportunities, attracted by foreign investment incentives and the future Mariel free trade zone outside the capital.
MIKE GONZALEZ & ANDREA RODRIGUEZ
The violence in Central America that leads to the crisis at our border is not an isolated example of policy gone awry but the tipping point of a failing policy on Latin America. Exhibit 1 is Venezuela. We don’t hear much about Venezuela anymore since the Obama administration let its dictatorial president regain the upper hand.
Yet, Venezuela is the distribution point for much of the drugs that end up in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, which are then shipped from there to the United States. It is estimated that 75 percent of illegal drug flights outbound from South America land in Honduras and originate in Venezuela.
The cartels and street gangs that transship the drugs have overwhelmed the armed forces of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, giving them the No. 1, 4 and 5 highest murder rates in the world. This is why, when Central American ... Read More
By Lilian Tintori
Lilian Tintori, wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, lives in Caracas.
This year, my husband, Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López , spent his 43rd birthday behind bars. To mark Leopoldo’s birthday, our children, Manuela, 4 , and Leopoldo, 1, and I tried to bring him a birthday cake at the Ramo Verde military prison. We were turned away. We were forced to celebrate on the street outside the prison, where our family sang “Happy Birthday” to a life-size picture of him.
For our children, this was a poor substitute for seeing their father. It’s been a month since we last visited Leopoldo, and we miss him each day. In his absence, I am a single mother, a circumstance that has taken a toll on our family.
During the first half of 2014, Venezuela endured an average of 35 protests per day across the nation, according to a report released by the NGO Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict (OVCS).
So far this year, the number of recorded rallies is 6,369, the NGO said.
In the report entitled “Social Unrest in Venezuela in the First Half of 2014,” OVCS indicated that the first six months of this year have had the most protests seen in the last 10 years.
It estimated an increase of 278 percent over the first semester of 2013, when there were 1,687 rallies.
The wave of protests, which intensified in February, began with demands for the right to public safety as a response to astronomical rates of street crime and violence. In the following weeks, the NGO wrote in its report, the theme of the protests expanded to include demands for a range of rights: food, political participation, ... Read More
China’s President Xi Jinping departed Argentina Sunday for Venezuela, the next-to-last stop of a Latin American tour aimed at bolstering trade with the region.
The Chinese leader’s charm offensive seeks to secure new bilateral trade deals — particularly for coveted raw materials.
Xi hopes to further develop his country’s strategic relationship with Venezuela, just as Caracas’ ties with the United States — the region’s traditional political and economic powerhouse — are arguably at their lowest point ever.
The countries, which have not had ambassadors in each other’s capitals since 2010, had poor relations during the leadership of late president Hugo Chavez and ties have remained strained under his successor, Nicolas Maduro.
- Warming ties with Caracas -
By contrast, relations have been warming between China and Venezuela where bilateral trade has been steadily rising, exceeding $20 billion in 2012. Beijing now is also the second largest buyer of Venezuelan oil.
By Shannon Tiezzi
As Xi Jinping travels through South America this week, China’s goals for the region are on display. Even though Xi ’s tour of South America only sees him stopping in three countries (Brazil, Venezuela, and Argentina), he has arranged meetings with even more leaders, including the presidents of Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Amidst all the diplomatic niceties, what does China actually want to achieve with Xi’s trip?
The most obvious priority is expanding economic ties between China and South America. Trade between China and Latin America (a region encompassing South America, Central America, and the Caribbean) has skyrocketed in the past 15 years, rising from a total value of $12 billion in 2000 to $261 billion in 2013. And there’s still room for growth, as China’s bilateral trade volumes with individual countries remain relatively low. China has grown to be Latin America’s second largest trading partner and may ultimately has its sights ... Read More
Geopolitics: Vladimir Putin blew through Latin America last week, handing out goodies to anti-U.S. regimes. But he insists he doesn’t want to reopen an old spy base in Cuba, which we find disingenuous.
The scope of the Russian president’s visit took the U.S. by surprise. Instead of just attending the World Cup final and a summit of BRICS countries, Putin made an unexpected visit to Nicaragua, with talk of a military land base there. He then flew to Argentina, reportedly with promises for two nuclear plants, and on to Venezuela to offer a credit lifeline.
Last but not least, Putin stopped in Cuba to sign deals on everything from electricity output to exploration for oil with Rosneft (the company whose unsavory oligarch, Igor Sechin, was the target of Wednesday’s sanctions over Ukraine). There was also a dramatic announcement that Russia would forgive 90% of Cuba’s $35 billion debt.
By JOSHUA GOODMAN
It’s enough to make an aging U.S. Cold Warrior shudder.
During overlapping visits to Latin America, the leaders of China and Russia have been welcomed with open arms by governments that are among the most hostile to Washington, including Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Together with stops in Argentina and Brazil, which both have distanced themselves from the U.S. in recent years, the tours underscore the mix of ideology and economics that’s allowing the two superpowers to expand their influence in America’s backyard.
“These are all countries the U.S. has some real question marks about,” said Kevin Gallagher, a Boston University economist and expert on Chinese-Latin American ties. “It’s going to require some PR so as not to be interpreted in certain, phobic circles as an overt alignment with left-leaning governments at odds with the U.S.”
In 2003 Venezuela’s then president, Hugo Chávez, fired more than 18,000 employees, almost half the workforce, of the state-run oil corporation, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). Their offence was to have taken part in a strike (pictured) called in protest at the politicisation of the company. Their punishment was to be barred from jobs not only in PDVSA itself but also in any company doing business with the oil firm. The axe fell heavily on managers and technicians: around 80% of the staff at Intevep, PDVSA’s research arm, are thought to have joined the strike. At the stroke of a pen, Venezuela lost its oil intelligentsia.
It was a blow from which PDVSA has never recovered. The firm’s oil production has since stagnated (see chart), despite a big run-up in prices. The financial crisis bears some of the blame for that, as does the economic mismanagement of Chávez and, since last year, ... Read More