“Our concerns about Rangel Silva are well known and of long standing. In 2008, the Department of Treasury designated [Henry] Rangel Silva under the Kingpin Act for materially assisting the narcotics trafficking activities of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a narco-terrorist organization,” U.S. State Department said in a short press statement.
According to Colombian weekly Semana and Colombian daily El Tiempo, Rangel was the main liaison between the FARC and the Venezuelan government between 2005 and 2008 and was a “good friend” of the FARC’s supreme leader.
Chavez has called the Colombian accusations “slanderous” and said “they have no evidence” of ties between Rangel and the FARC.
“We come out in defense of the revolution, of socialism, of the Bolivarian homeland and of course him. We are forced to come out in teh defense of the dignity, not just of one man, but the dignity of us all,” Chavez said at a military event.
The Colombian government has refused to make statements on Rangel’s appointment, but according to Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin “we are working and talking to [the Venezuelan government] directly.”
The United States and Colombia’s former President Alvaro Uribe have frequently accused Venezuela of harboring leftist Colombian guerrillas and maintaining high-level relations with the FARC.