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A little more than 2 weeks ago I wrote a post titled "Drug trafficking as a convenient excuse for intervention in Venezuela" which was a reply to an accusation by New York's district attorney of the Venezuelan government being a narco-terrorist organization that wanted to flood the United States with cocaine "in order to undermine the health and wellbeing" of that country. That's pretty much the excuse under which the Trump administration has justified a number of actions against the government, including political and economic sanctions, threats of invasion, etc. https://www.reddit.com/venezuela/comments/gw7hek/drug_trafficking_as_a_convenient_excuse_fo
I based my case on three different, well-documented arguments:
1) Venezuela isn't flooding the US with drugs. Not only does the drug - mainly cocaine - that goes to the US from Venezuela is but a fraction of the total, drug shipments from Venezuela have actually been steadily decreasing in the past years.
2) Neighboring countries, and more specifically Colombia, are actually bigger narco-states and have state sponsored/sheltered apparati behind drug-trafficking. I, as a matter of anecdotes, mentioned news pieces just from the last couple of months including
- A huge scandal involving massive a vote-buying campaign financed with drug money that Iván Duque - Colombia's current president - to get elected in the coastal states. These revelations, that came from intelligence recordings of a family of drug dealers included one between Goyo Hernández and ex-President Uribe's personal assistant "Cayita" where she asked him to provide money "under the table" to carry out political activities.
- A medical plane full of drugs that left Olaya Herrera airport in Medellín that crashed in Honduras.
- An investigative report that showed that ex-president Uribe, back when he was director of Aeronáutica Civil in the early 1980's, awarded an import licence for a helicopter to a member of the Ochoa drug clan - to whom he had previously sold an apartment in Bogotá. This helicopter was later suspended from operation by the Colombian Minister of Justice of that time because it was proved that it belonged to drug cartel through a figurehead. This helicopter somehow ended in the hands of another drug trafficker close the Ochoa clan and crashed in a flight where a politician by the name Pedro Juan Moreno Villa died. Moreno was said to have information on a paramilitary incursion called the "Masacre del Aro" where Uribe - then governor of Antioquia - provided air support. The investigators of the helicopter crash eventually reported that the most likely most probable cause of the accident was criminal sabotage.
- The discovery of a cocaine lab in a farm near Bogotá belonging to Colombia's ambassador in Uruguay for which he had to resign to his post. This ambassador, Fernando Sanclemente Alzate, was coincidentially (if such coincidences exist) the director of Aeronáutica Civil by the time of the helicopter crash where Moreno Villa died. He emitted a preliminary report full of inconsistencies where he blamed the accident on bad weather and human error.
3) Finally, that the US government isn't truly concerned either with drugs undermining the health and wellbeing of the nation. I specifically mentioned the lose morals of hard-core Republican congresspeople who are constantly changing their stance of the legality and morality of marihuana legalization once they realize that recreational marihuana can help states close budget holes. I also mentioned the Slacker family, some true drug barons that have made billions of dollars by inundating the US with opioids.
I finally wrote some finals comments regarding the war of drugs (my personal take is that it should be completely dismantled).
I received several criticisms from some of the regular posters of this sub. Some like u/red-ish
went to the source of my claims, for instance they mentioned that, with regards of former ambassador Sanclemente:
[I] omitted some key details there, like the fact that the owner was the family of the ambassador not the ambassador himself, and that the farm was rented to some other people.
Several of the criticisms were directed to make a distiction between the Colombian government and the Venezuelan one, in the sense that Colombia cannot be considered a narco-state because they actually worked towards ending drug-trafficking whereas the Venezuelan government was actually part of big drug cartel.
For instance u/re-dish
The fact remains, the old [Colombian drug] leaders are all imprisoned, this is something that you will see when a government is actively going after the cartels.
the army and the madurismo are heavily involved in cocaine trafficking despite years of evidence of it and two nephews of cilia getting caught red handed with almost a ton of cocaine worth around 67 million dollars.
Finally, my position on the drug on wars was basically equated to crime apologetics.
This is a follow-up. Some of the things that have come to light in just three weeks is trully fascinanting and some of the people that read the previous post might find interest in it. It will also serve as a response to some of the criticisms I got previously and directly refutes many of points made by those who wrote them. What's happened in the last 18 days
In these past few days, many reports that have been coming out since late April have been gaining strength within the public opinion. Yesterday, El Espectador columnist Yohir Akerman wrote a opion piece titled "El que la descubre la paga". It begins with the following sentence: "By now it is clear why Ivan Duque's Government's drug combat policy has failed" and he goes on to expand on the current status of several of the many drug-related scandals that have been tarnishing the government's image (some of which I precisely wrote about):
La Dirección Especializada de Extinción del Derecho de Dominio de la Fiscalía impuso medidas cautelares de embargo, secuestro y suspensión del poder dispositivo sobre cuatro predios y dos vehículos de la sociedad Las Colinas de Guasca, de la que hizo parte y fue representante legal el señor embajador Sanclemente Alzate. So, it wasn't just that the farm where they found the Ambassador's drug lab belonged to his family and it was rented to someone else. The prosecutors actually seized and embargoed four different properties and two vehicles from a business partnership called Las Colinas del Guasca, of which ex-ambassador Sanclemente Alzate acted as legal representative. Apparently the entire scandal has gone away with him resigning from his post.
El escándalo pasó desapercibido y todo se desactivó con una simple renuncia al cargo.
The article also reads that:
Mientras la investigación ya tiene capturados a los agentes de la Dijín que interceptaron legalmente al Ñeñe y a su hermano, a los mencionados en el escándalo no les ha pasado nada. In the story dealing with the presidential bid bolstered by drug money, a judged actually ordered the intelligence officers that incercepted the incriminating calls to be captured and are currently in jail whereas the drug dealers are roaming free.
But besides those stories I wrote about a new batch of investigative reports have come out in the last days. We learned, for instance, that Marta Lucía Ramirez had a brother that went to jail for trafficking heroine to the US and she paid a 150000 USD bond and that was kept secret to most everyone, including president Duque. We also learned that her niece's - which is more like an adopted daugter - husband spent five years in jail for the "falsos positivos" scandal: During the Uribe years, Colombian military officers and soldiers killed, as part of a widespread policy innocent people - mainly poor peasants - and made them pass as guerrilla fighters in order to cook numbers and obtain military benefits. Those pesky nephews and brothers...
But the most striking report came from Insight Crime, a foundation dedicated to investigating organized crimed in Latin America and the Caribbean. Insight Crime's co-founder Jeremy McDermott, who is an ex-officer of the British Army and former BBC correspondant in Colombia. He had been working for some time on what he calls the "invisible drug traffickers"
InSight Crime has long believed that behind every famous drug trafficker, there have been many “invisibles.” Rather than dressing in alligator boots, sporting gold chains and gold-plated pistols, these drug traffickers have shunned ostentation and the limelight. They act like legitimate businessmen. Because the drug trade needs protectors, with high profits and untrustworthy participants, every invisible needs a “visible” to ensure that agreements are respected and debts are paid. https://www.insightcrime.org/investigations/the-invisibles-of-the-drug-world/
Pablo Escobar was the ultimate visible trafficker, becoming a member of Colombia’s congress, opening his vast estate Hacienda Nápoles to the public and populating it with exotic wildlife. Yet when Escobar fell, dozens of invisibles remained and many, like Memo Fantasma, survive to this day.
This should give a little insight on u/re-dish's idea "that the old [Colombian drug] leaders are all imprisoned". If any of you have time to read the entire report go ahead and do it, it's quite long but it plays like a real-life detective story and it's absolutly fascinating. Insight Crime established that Memo Fantasma is another alias for Sebastián Colmenares, a high-profile paramilitary leader co-founder of the most powerful paramilitary organization in the 1990's and 2000's and one of the biggest drug-lords on the history of Colombia, up there with Pablo Escobar, the Rodriguez Orejuela brothers, el Loco Barrera and Don Berna. He must have been a truly important figure within that world because he was one of the signatories of the Unity for Peace Agreement, along with the Castaño brothers, Don Berna, Macaco, Pablo Sevillano... the heavy-hitters of drug-trafficking and paramilitarism in Colombia. And yet, nobody knew the guy's real identity and there weren't any attempts to capture him despite him never demovilizing.
Insight Crime found out, among other things:
I) That Memo Fantasma had been trafficking since the early nineties within the Medellin Cartel during the times of Pablo Escobar, then through Oficina de Envigado and with the support of the paramalitaries and his network of Mexican contacts.
II) That he is co-responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands massacred as part of the expansion of paramilitarism (yes, tens of thousands of people murdered).
III) That he had "high-level protection, had penetrated elements of the Colombian police and might even have been a US informant":
...he was known as a vicious little shit and was a friend of Rogelio’s [real name Carlos Mario Aguilar] of the Oficina de Envigado, who ran the Medellín sicario [hitman] networks and who had several policemen on his payroll, including General Mauricio Santoyo.” IV) That he has laundered (and continues to launder) countless millions of USD through a network of companies owned by a number of figure-heads in Colombia and Spain (that they know of) from his own businesses and presumably from other important figures.
General Santoyo, who is mentioned and thanked in President Alvaro Uribe’s autobiography, “No Lost Causes” (“No hay causa perdida”), was one of the stars of the police force and head of President Uribe’s security detail. His relationship with Rogelio is well documented and was confirmed to us by Rogelio’s sister, Cruz Elena Aguilar.
Indeed, it was Rogelio’s testimony to US authorities that led Santoyo to plead guilty to charges of working with the paramilitaries after being extradited to the United States in 2012. Having a top policeman on the payroll showed the power of the Oficina de Envigado, the successor to the Medellín Cartel, that Rogelio ran under the orders of Diego Murillo, alias “Don Berna.” And the Oficina was Memo’s criminal home, perhaps even more so than the paramilitaries.
V) That the US government has known all about this guy from a long time ago:
What we know is that there was an open case file on Memo in the United States. We have the name of a prosecutor who was looking into him and the name of a possible DEA case officer. Requests for comment were not answered and another US source stated that the files had been sealed and were classified. Oh... and the cherry on top:
Bonnie Klapper, a former assistant US attorney who specialized in drug prosecutions and is now a noted defense attorney, has seen both sides of the US justice system and its interactions with the drug world and its informers. While she had no specific knowledge of Guillermo Acevedo or Memo Fantasma and she thinks no formal indictment against Acevedo exists, he could have worked as an informant and therefore received lenient treatment.
Asked how tolerant US agencies would be to criminal activity by a source, she replied: “Quite tolerant, so long as the source is working at the agency’s direction.”
Asked if it is usual for a drug trafficker to get a complete pass, Klapper replied, “not very common, but not unheard of. I have represented two individuals in the past eight years who were given a pass. However, neither had a high profile nor was there any violence. They weren’t given a pass because their cooperation was so great — though it was excellent — but simply because the agents were not interested in pursuing the case — not big enough, conduct was old, etc. — or the informants just slipped through the cracks and the statute ran out.”
V) That he is an associate of Vice-president Marta Lucía Ramirez's husband (actually with herself because she has majoritary stake in the company that has dealings with Memo Fantasma). In fact, an informant of Insight Crime told them that:
“They moved to Bogotá. We heard that when one of the family members boasted that Memo and Catalina had got their two daughters into the Nueva Granada school, thanks to a recommendation from Marta Lucía Ramírez.” There's a really strange turn to the story. McDermott tells us that he went to Madrid to confront Guillermo León Acevedo Giraldo - the real name of Memo Fantasma - or or at least to deliver a letter laying out the story and giving him the right to reply. The day after he spoke to Memo Fantasma he flew to Colombia and upon arriving he turned on the phone:
There I found a message from Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez saying that we needed to talk. This could not be a coincidence. When we got on the phone, she got right to the point. Since then, things have continued to pile up.
“I know what story you are working on,” she said.
Now at any one time, InSight Crime is working on a dozen different investigations, but I have found it is usually better to be direct with vice presidents.
“Who told you?” I asked.
“A source in Washington,” she replied.
Again, this is from the last three weeks. It's ridiculous to see the extent and ramifications of the narcoparamilitary state in Colombia and how it has permeated all branches of the government. Insight Crime's research confirms my originally thesis that narcotraffic is used discretionarily by the US government to punish any given party that doesn't play along.
Now, let's put aside Memo Fantasma and his criminal network and actions (which go on today, Insight Crime contacted Spanish authorities and they told him the guy was on their radar because he was buying properties from known Colombian money launderers) and its relation with the US government. Also let's agree for the sake of discussion that Maduro and his government are in fact a big organized drug-trafficking operation. How can you explain the "drug-traffic is illegal and a crime and it has to be punished" narrative that I was replied with in my previous post when Bolton in his book says negotiation was always on the table and that corruption and drug-trafficking charges could simply be put aside as long Maduro was ousted?
Muchas figuras importantes del régimen eran corruptas, se beneficiaban del narcotráfico, por ejemplo, y su récord de respeto de los derechos humanos era todo menos ejemplar. Pero yo estaba convencido que era mejor tragarse unos sapos para tumbar el régimen y liberar a los venezolanos que pararse en unos “principios” que los mantenía oprimidos, y con Cuba y Rusia mandando adentro. https://lasillavacia.com/trump-queria-salida-militar-y-petroleo-venezuela-dice-bolton-77205
In fact, the recent Axios report reads that they are negotiating with Diosdado Cabello - "an alledged druglord" in the words of the report - and that the "Trump administration officials view Cabello as an important power broker, and some say the Venezuelan opposition's April 30 uprising would have succeeded if Cabello had been involved".
The Guardian reports that "Some Trump officials reportedly considered that a positive sign suggesting Maduro’s circle was 'gradually cracking'", but I assume that if the expected Cabello to participate in the uprising one would presume that he would receive some benefits or maintain some participation in the new government. So are they explicitly accepting that they don't care about the help of "an alledged druglord" that is part of Maduro's bigger drug ring?
So it was never really about the drugs: Drug charges stick or are forgotten depending on the interests of the US administration. It is as I've titled my posts: Drug trafficking as a convenient excuse for intervention in Venezuela (and elsewhere).
By the way, Bolton has told us what we already suspected (and which my fellow posters vehemently denied): The White House saw Maduro as a threat to the US because of his ties with Russia, China and Cuba, and wanted to revive the Monroe Doctrine through a military intervention. He also wanted (wants) Venezuela's oil.
Also that former Colombia's Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes pushed for US military presence in Colombia; Duque went to the US to push against a negotiated solution with Venezuela and Ambassador Francisco Santos told Trump that Maduro was losing all the political that Santos believed he still had over Guaidó a couple of months before, something that apparently had a big impact on Trump. This coincides with Operación Gedeón - which I believe some people honestly believed could be a success - and with the Colombian speed boats that sailed by themselves to the Venezuelan coast.
Me imagino que ya han visto el video donde denuncian que la hija del Gigante tiene una gigantesca cuenta el dolares del cochino imperio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQc2l72za8U
Lo que a lo mejor no han visto es la pagina donde la agencia de propaganda del gobierno desmiente la supuesta acusacion: http://www.sibci.gob.ve/2014/09/tv-mayamera-usa-pruebas-falsas-contra-familia-chavez/
Alli dicen que el capitan saco la imagen del recibo de una pagina de memes: http://frabz.com/gen/fake-atm-receipt-generator.php
Si se dan cuenta, la imagen que presentan en el sito de memes esta clarita, mientras que la que presentan en el video tiene la tipica region oscura que sale cuando uno usa un scanner, y la "caja" clara a los lados cuando se usa deteccion automatica de tamaño de la imagen (ademas que la imagen el meme es de un recibo de Albuquerque y la del video es de Nueva York: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQc2l72za8U#t=165
Me imagino que los argumentos pueden ir de lado y lado, los chavistas diran que la imagen del video fue fotochopeada para que parezca mas real, los de la oposicion que la gente del gobierno publico el meme en esa pagina para dementir la denuncia.
Yo por mi lado solo pienso: Que clase de idiota va a usar un meme publico como prueba? No es mejor escanear un recibo real y luego usar fotochop para alterarlo?
Pienso que lo absurdo del argumento del gobierno es lo que le da mas validez a la denuncia?
Que piensan? Hay expertos en fotochop que puedan comentar al respecto? EDIT: La acusacion es falsa, ver: http://www.reddit.com/vzla/comments/2h4rsz/como_el_gobierno_comprueba_que_la_cuenta_de_ma/ckpjtlu
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