Venezuela and Cocaine

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Corruption at the Venezuelan National Guard, which controls "Venezuela's airports, borders and ports" and answers only to Chávez, among the reasons why Venezuelan cocaine trans-shipments have soared more than fourfold from 2003 to 2007:


U.S. Slams Caracas on Drugs

Venezuela is fast becoming a major hub for cocaine trafficking in the Western Hemisphere, according to a report written by the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress. The report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office is sure to raise tensions between Venezuela and the U.S. at a delicate moment in the two countries' often testy relations. ...

"A high level of corruption within the Venezuelan government, military and other law enforcement and security forces contributes to the permissive environment," says the report, scheduled to be released this month. Many of the drug shipments come from Colombian "illegal armed groups" such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the report says, which the Venezuelan government provides with "a lifeline" of support and a haven within Venezuela. FARC is a communist guerrilla group.

Regular readers of The Compass blog may remember that I have posted in the past on how Chávez offers sanctuary to FARC leaders.

In addition,

The biggest problem: corruption of Venezuelan officials at all levels, according to the report. Corruption within the Venezuelan National Guard "poses the most significant threat," the report says, because the "Guard reports directly to President Chávez and controls Venezuela's airports, borders and ports." In some cases, the report says, drugs captured by the National Guard and Venezuela's Investigative Police, who are often themselves involved in drug trafficking, aren't destroyed, but are taken by the officials or returned to drug traffickers.
As you may recall last March I posted on the Venezuelan military takeover of the country's major airport and maritime hubs.

The WSJ article also points out Chávez's involvement in Honduran politics and his support of ousted president Mel Zelaya, adding,

In the past few years, drug trafficking through Honduras has risen sharply, with many shipments of cocaine arriving in flights from Venezuela on their way to Mexico and the U.S., say officials in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital.
Back in 2006 I was saying
Hugo [Chávez] needs money for financing his “Bolivarian Revolution”, i.e., his desire to control all of Latin America’s politics. For that he needs money. A huge amount of money. The drug trade is one source.
And he's not going to stop.

You can read the GAO report here.

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