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Former general and alleged drug trafficker Hugo Carvajal was released by Aruban authorities today after his arrest on the island this past Wednesday on accusations that he was involved in drug trafficking.

According to El Nacional, Carvajal was released after the Dutch authorities recognized his diplomatic immunity, which effectively bars him from any kind of legal prosecution. Nevertheless, Peter Blanken – the Aruban chief prosecutor – declared Carvajal a persona non gratasaying:

If he comes back to Aruba, he will be arrested.
(…)
They [the Dutch government] said that he didn’t have diplomatic immunity, but now [the Minister of Foreign Relations] sent us a letter saying that he does have it, so we had to release him. If we’d had that information on Thursday, we wouldn’t have kept him detained [for so long].

Maduro was overjoyed by the news of Carvajal’s release, saying:

At this moment the plane returning our brother, Major General Carvajal, is coming back from Aruba. [He’s returning] victorious and free to our Venezuelan homeland. A victory for sovereignty, a victory for law!

Carvajal – whose nickname is “El Pollo” [“The Chicken”] was greeted as a hero upon his return to Venezuela at approximately 8:23 PM local time. TeleSur carried Carvajal’s arrival live, a portion of which you can see below:

Carvajal was met at the airport by the Minister of Foreign Relations Elias Jaua, First Lady Cilia Flores, and the Aragua Governor Tareck El Aissami.

Diosdado Cabello also weighed in on Carvajal’s return. During a speech at the PSUV congress, Cabello said:

He will be welcomed as a patriot, as one of us, as a fighter.
(…)
Hugo Carvajal, brother, the revolutionary government has carried out intense actions to make this happen – contacts, chats, just claims.

Cabello also said that after the dust had settled on Carvajal’s return, and investigation would be launched into his “kidnapping”.

Opinion

All of this has happened before. In the movies, at least.

The police finally have their hands on the bad guy. They’re sure he’s the man they’re looking for. All the hard work is about to pay off. Justice will finally be served. When they cuff him, they can see he’s afraid – they’ve got him cornered. He can’t run anymore. He can’t understand why he’s being arrested – “What happened to my diplomatic immunity?” – but that doesn’t matter anymore. The good guys finally got their man!

During interrogation, he’s smug and arrogant. He’s full of confidence. Or is he bluffing? It doesn’t matter, because the evidence speaks for itself, bluff or no bluff.

The phone rings.

The head detective picks it up. He listens intently. Without a word, he hangs up.

“Let him walk,” he says hurriedly. “He’s got diplomatic immunity”.

The Venezuelan government is playing up Carvajal’s release as some kind of diplomatic victory to save one of their own from the jaws of El Imperio. They see his release as vindication of his innocence, his only crime being his undying love for the homeland. But it’s neither of those things.

The simple truth is that Carvajal was released because the Dutch government, after careful consideration, recognized his diplomatic immunity. Had the government decided to hold Carvajal despite his diplomatic status, the precedent set would have been devastating.

For the Dutch government, holding Carvajal any longer given his diplomatic status was not an option.

The allegations leveled against Carvajal are extremely disturbing. They warrant some serious, careful consideration. And yet, we saw none of that tonight. No tact, no reflection or introspection, no dignity; only another show for the cameras, another meaningless celebration.

 

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3 thoughts on “July 27: Carvajal Released

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