Foreign Minister: Venezuela Rejects U.S. Blackmail in Fight Against Drugs

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro stated yesterday that Venezuela will not give in to U.S. “blackmail” in the fight against drug trafficking. Monday the U.S. State Department had announced that it was cutting Venezuela’s anti-drug trafficking aid of $2.2 million due to Venezuela’s supposed lack of cooperation in the anti-drug effort.

By Gregory Wilpert – Venezuelanalysis.com
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Caracas, February 7, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro stated yesterday that Venezuela will not give in to U.S. “blackmail” in the fight against drug trafficking. Monday the U.S. State Department had announced that it was cutting Venezuela’s anti-drug trafficking aid of $2.2 million due to Venezuela’s supposed lack of cooperation in the anti-drug effort.

Responding to the decision, Maduro said, “As a sovereign country [Venezuela] does not accept blackmail from any other nation. [U.S. officials] can take their resources and do whatever they think they need to do." Maduro added, "We will continue fighting against drug-trafficking."

Last Sunday Maduro had already warned that a new international campaign to discredit Venezuela, to make it seem like it is under a dictatorship, was underway that is being directed by the U.S. government. However, according to Maduro, “the reality of Venezuela is a different one, is one that bumps up against the imperialist and dominator interests of the current U.S. administration.” “It is not just Venezuela but the entire region that is giving an example of how to construct new social, economic, and political models,” said Maduro.

Venezuelan drug interdiction efforts have been increasing fairly steadily over the past few years, despite constant complaints from the Bush administration that Venezuela is not doing enough. In August 2005 Venezuela suspended its cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), saying that it was violating Venezuelan sovereignty by engaging in unauthorized activities.

Subsequently, in September 2005, the Bush administration withdrew Venezuela’s Drug Control Certification. However, despite the official break-off in relations between the DEA and their Venezuelan counterparts, the two countries continued cooperating in drug control efforts. By the summer of 2006 it looked as if the two countries would sign a new cooperation agreement on drug control, but the negotiations stalled in the end and nothing has been signed.

Last September, when Venezuela arrested Farid Feris Dominguez, a major drug lord, the then Minister for the Interior and Justice, Jesse Chacón, said that Venezuela had arrested three times as many drug traffickers since it broke its cooperation agreement with the U.S. “Here we are hitting the mafia that are involved in narco-trafficking hard. After breaking the agreement with the DEA, because what they were doing here was espionage (..) The DEA is infiltrated by narco-traffickers, the CIA is infiltrated by narco-traffickers,” said Chacón at the time.

Venezuela to Buy Coca Leaf Harvest from Bolivia

In a related development, Minister Maduro yesterday confirmed that Venezuela has entered into negotiations with Bolivia for purchasing 4 million tons of Bolivian coca leaves, for processing, mostly for medicines and tea.

According to Maduro, “The only thing that is known [about coca] is the perversion that capitalism has created: the production of cocaine. From there they satanized the ancestral indigenous use of the coca plant.”

Venezuela’s Ambassador to Bolivia, Julio Montes, had already mentioned the possibility that Venezuela World purchase Bolivia’s coca harvest last week. Montes told the Bolivian daily La Razón that there is a market for the coca products within Venezuela and that these would be processed with Cuban help.

“Just as South Africa does with Peru, we are prepared to buy … everything that comes from the processed plant,” said Montes.

Such plans are in line with Bolivia’s President Evo Morales’ efforts to decriminalize coca farming internationally and to fight against its use as a drug.

Rice Says there is an “Assault on Democracy” in Venezuela

In further news related to U.S.-Venezuela relations, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, returned to attack Venezuela during a congressional budget hearing today, saying, “I believe there is an assault on democracy in Venezuela, and I believe that there are significant human rights issues in Venezuela.”

“I do believe that the president of Venezuela is really, really destroying his own country, economically, politically,” she added.

Having said that, though, she denied she wanted to get into “a rhetorical contest” with Chavez and would prefer to have good relations with Venezuela.

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