President Bush has taken Venezuela off his list of allies in the war on drugs, saying that the government of President Hugo Chavez spurned anti-drug cooperation with U.S. officials and fired its effective law enforcement officers.
But the White House waived the cuts in U.S. foreign aid usually attached to the “decertification” so that it can continue to support Venezuelan pro-democracy groups that oppose the leftist Chavez.
Bush’s decision is expected to sharply exacerbate already bitter U.S.-Venezuelan relations roiled by Washington’s charges that Chavez is promoting subversion around the hemisphere and the Venezuelan president’s allegations that Bush is out to kill him.
The U.S. State Department’s No. 3 official, Nicholas Burns, announced the Bush administration decision Thursday in New York City around the time Chavez was arriving there for a U.N. summit gathering. The only other nation decertified this year was Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.
Accompanying Burns, U.S. drug czar John Walters said that in the past Venezuelan cooperation on drugs was “quite successful and extensive” but that now it seemed that Chavez “no longer wants a productive relationship.”
Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said of the annual certification process required by U.S. law, “We reject it. … it’s infantile.”
This could get ugly. Now I don’t claim to be any kind of expert on what’s happening in Venezuela, but I do know our own players pretty well.
When Walters talks about a “production relationship,” that means one where Venezuela bends over and does whatever the U.S. tells it to, regardless of legality, morality, or effectiveness. Too much of the world has agreed to do just that. It’s actually nice to see a country question it.
And Rangel is right — the certification process is infantile.
I suspect that this has very little to do with an actual concern on the part of the U.S. regarding drug trafficking — that’s just the excuse. The U.S. was using the DEA as a cover to infiltrate and Chavez knew it. And the fact that the U.S. is decertifying without cutting aid for groups opposing Chavez kind of makes it obvious (since decertification is supposed to stop aid).
Could it be that the administration is setting up a scenario where they can justify overthrowing Chavez in order to “protect us from drugs”?
Oh yeah, and don’t forget: “Venezuela provides 12 to 15 percent of U.S. oil imports.”