El Pollo and Venezuela’s game of chicken: Venezuela exerted military pressure on Aruba

In today’s WSJ, Aruba: Venezuela Pressured It Militarily
The Netherlands’ release of a former top Venezuelan official wanted by the U.S. for alleged drug trafficking came after Venezuela raised economic and military pressure on two Dutch islands in the Caribbean, officials said.

Aruba’s chief prosecutor Peter Blanken said that Venezuelan navy ships neared Aruba and Curaçao over the weekend as Dutch officials were debating what to do with Hugo Carvajal —Venezuela’s former chief of military intelligence who was jailed in Aruba last week on a U.S. warrant.

“The threat was there,” Mr. Blanken said. “We don’t know what their intentions were, but I think a lot of people in Aruba were scared that something would happen.”

Holland is a member of NATO and as such Aruba would be protected, as WSJ commenter Donald Hutchinson points out, but, in the Obama administration’s era of “smart diplomacy”, the Dutch couldn’t count on that:

Assuming that US intelligence was not asleep, all,it would take would be a fly over by US Navy jets and a notification that any offensive action would be met by the immediate destruction of their ships. Holland is a member of NATO and such actioned would clearly be sanctioned,
It would also be a devastating set back to the former bus driver running Venezuela for bringing shame to their military.
But what one might expect from a timid White House and a preoccupied State Department?

Then there’s the oil,

Mr. Blanken said Venezuela’s government also had threatened to sever Venezuela’s vital commercial air links to Aruba and Curaçao. Venezuela’s state oil company also threatened to withdraw from a contract to manage Curaçao’s refinery, Mr. Blanken said, which would have put at risk some 8,000 jobs.

To put that number of jobs in perspective, Aruba’s total population is 103,009.

In the “no sh*t, Sherlock” file, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman’s reaction was, “This is not the way law enforcement matters should be handled.” At least they didn’t #hashtag it.

Hugo Carvajal a.k.a. “”el Pollo” is one of the guys who took part in Hugo Chávez’s unsuccessful 1992 military coup, later rising to the rank of general, but with a sideline,

Mr. Carvajal’s role as one of the Chávez government’s key liaisons to guerrillas from Colombia’s Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, emerged after computers belonging to a slain guerrilla leader were captured by Colombian security forces in 2008.

Here’s the indictment in the U.S. District Court accusing Carvajal of coordinating the transport of 5,600 kilos (6.17 tons) of cocaine from Venezuela to Mexico.

In addition to good’ol military thuggery, Miguel Octavio asserts that the Netherlands caved in (emphasis added):

Clearly, everyone applied pressure, but the weak link did not turn out to be Aruba as I suggested on my first post, but rather The Netherlands, as reportedly even Russia played a role, exchanging concessions on the Ucraine plane for helping release Carvajal. No matter what anyone says or how this is interpreted, it was a severe blow to the US, who would have loved to get Carvajal onshore.

One of my sources also mentions that team Obama had about 30 days to hand over its Extradition Request to Aruba but failed to; the Treasury Dept, the DEA and a U.S. District Court (mentioned above) had indicted him last year. It reminds me of drug kingpin Walid Makled, who was released to Venezuela by Santos of Colombia after the U.S. dragged its feet.

We’re in the best of hands.

PS,
While the Dutch allow Carvajal diplomatic immunity, the Egyptians search Secretary of State John Kerry, which was no biggie, but he fumes over Israel’s criticism.

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