The United States Treasure Department blacklisted a former Venezuelan foreign minister and the country’s top two intelligence officials for allegedly aiding narcotrafficking by the FARC, the latest move in a diplomatic confrontation that began when Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez expelled the U.S. ambassador Thursday.
U.S.-based financial assets of the pair, Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios, director of Venezuela’s Military Intelligence Directorate, and Henry de Jesus Rangel Silva, head of the Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services, will be frozen by the department, also well as those of ex-foreign minister Rodríguez Chacín, also accused of ties to the guerrilla group, reported the New York Times.
The Treasury department charges that Chacín was the leftist Colombian guerrilla group’s main weapons contact, as well as offering a government loan of US$250 million to the rebels, according to Spanish press agency EFE.
Carvajal Barrios is accused of protecting FARC drug shipments and providing arms to Colombian insurgents, in addition to providing them Venezuelan official identification documents to facilitate their movement between the two countries, reported the press agency.
Rangel Silva “materially assisted” the FARC’s drug trafficking activities and lobbied within the Venezuelan government for expanded cooperation with the FARC, according to Treasury department charges reported in the New York Times.
“Today’s designation exposes two senior Venezuelan government officials and one former official who armed, abetted, and funded the FARC, even as it terrorized and kidnapped innocents,” said Adam J Szubin, Director of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control in a German Press Agency report.
The Treasury Department move comes after a rapid back-and-forth of diplomatic expulsions, beginning Thursday when Chávez gave the U.S. ambassador in Caracas 72 hours to leave the country and recalled his ambassador to the U.S.
Chávez said he was acting in solidarity with Bolivian president Evo Morales, who forced the U.S. ambassador Philip Goldberg out of his country on Wednesday for allegedly supporting rebel groups in eastern Bolivia. The U.S. responded by asking the Bolivian ambassador to leave, reported the New York Times.