On Tuesday I posted about the arrest of el Gordito Gonzalez, a top FARC guy who ran the Guajira Cartel in Colombia.
What was really interesting about the news was el Gordito was nabbed by Venezuelan police.
The Colombian has been identified as the head of the so-called Guajira cartel, named for the desolate peninsula that forms Venezuela’s northwestern boundary. The cartel controls as much as one-third of the 250 tons of cocaine that annually passes through Venezuela on the way to U.S. and European markets, authorities say.
That passage is said to be facilitated by the so-called Cartel of the Sun, a group of corrupt Venezuelan army and police officials named for the solar insignia on the uniforms of the Venezuelan national guard. Gonzalez’s Guajira cartel is said to be closely associated with the guard.
Why would Hugo allow that? Why throw el Gordito to the dogs?
Maybe because the US is reconsidering Venezuela, perhaps?
U.S. Is Probing Links Between Venezuela, Terror Group
U.S. intelligence agencies are investigating a potential link between Venezuela and a terrorist group, according to a White House spokesman, who declined to say whether the U.S. will add the oil-exporting nation to a list of nations sponsoring terrorism.
Which means what?
A listing of Venezuela as a terrorism sponsor would cause the U.S. to end earned income tax credits for companies such as Chevron Corp. with operations in that country, lift diplomatic immunity for Venezuelan diplomats and force U.S. citizens to get a license before engaging in financial transactions with the country’s government, according to the State Department Web site.
Restrictions on arms sales wouldn’t affect Venezuela, as the U.S. forbade the export of military material to the country after Chavez kicked out Drug Enforcement Administration agents in 2005.
A listing wouldn’t automatically affect oil sales, though Congress could restrict oil imports from Venezuela as it has for Cuba and Iran. The U.S. is Venezuela’s biggest oil customer, consuming 1.58 million barrels a day of the country’s output last year, according to Energy Department figures. Venezuela produces an estimated 2.43 million barrels a day
Additionally, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has requested that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson
consider whether a joint oil and gas venture between a state-run Venezuelan petroleum company and a unit of Iran’s state oil concern violates U.S. sanctions targeting Tehran.
The US is Venezuela’s largest oil customer, buying 65% of Venezuela’s oil output, while only 15% of the US’s oil comes from Venezuela.
Hugo needs the oil revenues to stay in power. Without American oil revenues, Hugo’s power collapses. Hugo’s facing the option of having Venezuela on the State Department sponsors of terrorism list, or selling the FARC down the river.
He knows that nobody’s buying any symbollic gestures, such as pleading for the FARC to release Ingrid Betancourt. He knows he has to deliver.
So far, the Colombian government have combed only through a fraction of the information available in the computers seized during the Reyes raid of March 1, and they have not shared with the US everything they have found, but top FARC guys are already being busted in Venezuela.
In other drug news (not FARC related), Mexico captures ‘key drug lord’
Mexican police have arrested a US citizen accused of being a key figure in a major drug cartel based in the border city of Tijuana.
Gustavo Rivera Martinez was responsible for the logistics of smuggling drugs to the US and laundering the proceeds, Mexico’s interior minister said.
Mexican officials said Mr Rivera Martinez was a key figure in the Tijuana cartel and close to Enedina Arellano Felix, the latest member of the Arellano Felix family to head the drugs ring.
Expect more to come.
The United States depends on Venezuela for 15 percent of its oil; Venezuela depends on the United States for 65 percent of its oil sales (and oil sales account for about half of Venezuela’s government revenue). If the U.S. ceased to purchase from Venezuela, the country would have no immediate recourse. It would lose access to U.S. refineries that have been geared to process its crude. And while the nation will continue to expand its oil sales to China and India, it would be impossible to replace all of the lost export revenue immediately.