According to the cable, one of five million sent by Texas-based intelligence firm Stratfor and released last November, a diplomatic tug-of-war which broke out between Venezuela and the United States over where the kingpin should be extradited to put Colombia in a powerful position over its neighbor.
Apparent links between Makled and high-ranking officials in the Venezuelan regime meant Makled became a valuable bargaining chip, which Colombia used to make a series of demands to Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, it claims. Among them them was a list of senior FARC guerrillas to be extradited to Colombia and a demand that FARC forces be pushed out of Venezuelan territory.
The cable suggests that the United States sought Makled’s extradition in order to build a narcotrafficking case against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in an international criminal court, echoing the U.S. pursuit of Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, who was captured during the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989.
The cable states, “Makled is believed to have worked closely with senior members of the Venezuelan government, possibly including Chavez himself, before his relationship with the regime went sour in 2008.”
It added, “Makled had a valuable insurance policy in dealing with the Venezuelan political and military officials, always taking care to record his interactions in case he needed to one day negotiate his way out of a prison sentence, or worse.”
According to the cable, the uncertainty over Makled’s extradition drew a speech from Chavez during a November 2010 visit to Cuba, in which he accused the U.S. of seeking to manipulate the case in order to aid its attack against the Venezuelan regime.
The cable quotes Chavez as saying, “The game of the empire [the U.S] is to offer incentives to that man [Makled], including protection, so that he can start vomiting all he wants against Venezuela and its president.”
Apparently faced with the choice between staying loyal to his senior officials or supporting the FARC, Chavez initiated a process of flushing guerrilla units back across the international border, while alleged high-ranking FARC fugitive Joaquin Perez was extradited to Colombia in April 2011, according to newspaper El Espectador.
Makled’s detention thus contributed to the rapid improvement in relations between Colombia and Venezuela seen after Juan Manuel Santos assumed the Colombian presidency in August 2010, it claims.
Weeks later, Makled was extradited to Venezuela.