Venezuela: US Drug Fight Merely a Ruse

Caracas, Oct 15 (Prensa Latina) Vice President of Venezuela José Vicente Rangel has accused Washington of using the fight against drug trafficking as “political capital” and an excuse to interfere in sovereign decisions of other countries, such as Venezuela’s recent expulsion of US missionaries.

Rangel made the statements at the public burning of more than a ton of drugs and asserted that his government gives no quarter in the battle against this scourge.

He added that it is despicable that something this important for humanity be used as political capital to be certified or uncertified according to the political interests of the White House.

Last year Venezuela destroyed 43 tons of drugs and so far this year has confiscated 61 tons, yet, while in 2004 the US government congratulated Venezuela for its fight against drugs, this year it was not certified, an action showing more political manipulation than contact with reality, he said.

The vice president declared that Venezuelan authorities are willing to cooperate with the US DEA in a climate of respect. Caracas suspended collaboration with the DEA after revelations of irregularities involving its members in this country and for accusations of espionage.

He also commented on declarations by a US official that the administration was concerned about Caracas´ decision to expel the “new tribes”, fundamentalist US missionaries.

Rangel said that they are also interested in what happens in that country, as for example with Rep. Tom DeLay, who is under investigation for money-laundering derived from drug trafficking.

Venezuela’s vice president recalled that the House Speaker is a close ally of President George W. Bush.

The United States should not become involved in this affair (of the missionaries) as it is a sovereign decision of Venezuela, he concluded.

This week President Hugo Chavez announced the expulsion of the religious group after they were accused of exploiting local indigenous peoples, and considered them a “a true imperialist infiltration.”