Mérida, October 25th, 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – “A provocation” and a distraction, was how the Venezuelan government labelled comments by the Colombian minister for defence that Venezuela is a free trade zone for drug planes.
Colombia’s defence minister Gabriel Silva told press before travelling to Washington, “We’re extremely worried that the possibility exists of basically free trafficking of drugs by aircraft through Venezuelan territory towards Central America.”
“Unfortunately, the majority of the plans detected that end in the region of Honduras… pass through Venezuelan territory, and that worries us,” he continued.
Vice president of Venezuela, Ramon Carrizalez, said in response, “The Colombian defence ministers, when they are going to travel to the United States… in order to please… always attack Venezuela with any topic.”
He said the accusations were “cynical, disrespectful and rude and form part of a series of versions that we have been seeing in the media in the last few weeks and that correspond to a line of provocation by the Colombian government, when we all know the efforts that Venezuela goes to, to have cordial relations with all its neighbours.”
”The declaration of minister Silva that the majority of planes used for drug trafficking are coming out of Venezuela towards Central America, coincides with those made by the usurpers in Honduras, trying to link Venezuela with drug trafficking,” Carrizalez continued.
He argued that the stunt forms part of a plan to “divert attention from the internal problems of Colombia… but the whole world knows that this country (Colombia) is the main producer of drugs in the world and the main consumer is the United States.”
“The struggle that Venezuela maintains against drug smuggling is internationally recognised and the recent celebration of the XIX Meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA) [here in Nueva Esparta state] constitutes a display of the undeniable commitment of the Venezuelan government…against drug trafficking, and confirms the fundamental role that it assigns to international cooperation for the success of this struggle,” the Venezuelan foreign affairs ministry said in a press statement.
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez also responded to the accusations on his weekly television show, saying, “The cynicism of the Colombian [defence minister] reaches the point where he says that they’ve already managed to control drugs over there but they are worried because in Venezuela drug trafficking has a free reign. And they also say that they’ve managed to control the planes, but the planes pass through Venezuela. As if they come from the moon? These planes come from Colombia!”
The accusation by the Colombian minister comes during a year which has been marked by tension between the two countries, as Colombia has agreed to let the U.S. use seven of its bases, and has accused Venezuela of giving weapons to the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC). Venezuela has 20,000 soldiers along its border with Colombia, about three times as many as Colombia has.