Vice President Tareck El Aissami took out a full-page advertisement in today’s edition of the New York Times and used the space to defend himself against allegations made by the United States Department of the Treasury last week that he is a “prominent drug trafficker”.
In the ad, El Aissami pushes back against the sanctions by calling them a “serious violation” of his human rights and his honor, and claims that he does not own any assets in the United States.
Below, the text of El Aissami’s ad in today’s New York Times:
Public Letter to the Department of the Treasury of the United States of America
Mr. Steven T. Mnuchin
I write you as a Venezuelan citizen and in my capacity as Executive Vice President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, on the occasion to reply [sic] to the issuance of sanctions against me by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) last Tuesday, February 13th.
First, in your capacity as OFAC Authority you have been deceived by political sectors, lobbyists and stakeholders in the U.S. whose essential interest is to prevent that the United States and Venezuela restore their political and diplomatic relations on the basis of mutual recognition and respect.
These stakeholders not only lack any evidence to demonstrate the extremely serious accusations against me, but they also have built a false-positive case in order to criminalize -through me- the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, a country that is decidedly waging a war on transnational drug trafficking business.
You should be aware that when I headed the public security corps of my country, in 2008-2012, our fight against drug cartels achieved the greatest progress in our history and in the western hemisphere, both in terms of the transnational drug trafficking business and their logistics structures [sic]. During those years, the Venezuelan anti-drug enforcement authorities under my leadership captured, arrested and brought 102 heads of criminal drug trafficking organizations not only to the Venezuelan justice but also to the justice of other countries where they were wanted. From these 102 captured drug lords, 21 were promptly deported to the USA and 36 to Colombia, in accordance with the requests made by the authorities of each country and in compliance with the international agreements on the fight against organized crimes, facts formally acknowledged by the US and Colombian authorities.
Between 2005 and 2013, the seize of drugs [sic] by the Venezuelan authorities averaged 56.61 tons per year, which is a far higher figure than the 34.94 tons per year averaged in the six preceding years, when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was operating in Venezuela. This figure shows by itself the lack of commitment of DEA [sic] to fighting drugs trafficking, and upholds the very well documented assertion of the connections between that U.S. Agency [sic] with the criminal drug organizations [sic].
In addition, Venezuela has always been recognized by the United Nations as a drug-free territory.
The extraordinary progress made by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the fight against drugs trafficking [sic] -which I directed in my capacity as head of the public security corps- was acknowledged by international organizations, such as the United Nations Organization (UNO) [sic], and appears from the records in the archives of the Judicial bodies of the United States and Colombia, which countries [sic] also acknowledged the efforts that I headed against organized crime, which is unprecedented in our hemisphere.
Further to the firm determination to face international drug trafficking mafia [sic], President Nicolas Maduro enacted a law in 2012 enabling the interdiction of any drug-trafficking aircraft violating the Venezuelan airspace. Thanks to this modern legal instrument, Venezuela has destroyed, disabled or brought down over 100 aircrafts [sic] belonging to the drugs transport structure from Colombia and neighboring countries illegally flying over our territory.
Venezuela is waging an all-out war against drugs because it is a cross-border crime against humanity, and because such fight is a shared responsibility, as members of the international community [sic].
Venezuela also fights drug cartels because our country and our people are victims of drugs trafficking, particularly of the powerful Colombian illegal drugs industry, the main supplier of the drug that floods the streets of the United States and Europe.
You would need to investigate further before endorsing such false and reckless accusation, crafted by bureaucrats and anti-Venezuelan stakeholders, which sets a dangerous precedent in the relation between sovereign nations.
The decision of 120 countries to reject these illegal measures adopted against Venezuela, clearly demonstrates that this unilaterally decision [sic] is a serious error of the US Administration, contrary to international law.
But beyond any political and geopolitical considerations, OFAC’s decision constitutes a serious violation against my human rights and seriously damages my dignity and honor. I have led my personal, professional and political life in my country, which I love deeply and to which I devote my life through a political project whose supreme objective is the happiness of our people, equality and social justice. I have no assets or accounts in the United States or in any country of the world, and it is both absurd and pathetic that an American administrative body -without presenting any evidence- adopts a measure to freeze goods and assets that I do not own at all.
The intended sanctions, approved by the head of the OFAC, on the very day of his confirmation as Secretary of the Department of the Treasury, are illegal and in violation of International Law [sic]. Acting ex officio and without any evidence, as an extraterritorial police and without having powers to do so, is a format that violates the entire international human rights system, whose doctrine prevails in the world.
Paradoxically, whereas a governmental official dares to accuse, with no evidence, people anywhere in the world -as recognized by the international organizations [sic] and academic research- the “war on drugs” has failed all over the planet and especially in the U.S [sic] territory. Today more drugs are brought into the United States than ever before, while a corrupt and legal [sic] powerful financial structure legitimizes and recycles dirty money from this international illegal activity, which deprives thousands of American young people of their life and future.
The United States owes the world and their own People [sic] a reflection on the resounding failure of their fight against drugs. In the country where the so called “war on drugs” has been implemented as a unilateral strategy, the drug cartels today are strong than ever; the production of illegal drug has multiplied [sic], bringing about economic losses and, more importantly, more loss of human lives.
How many chiefs of criminal drug organizations have been captured by the U.S [sic] in its territory? How many banks and tax havens have been closed down by the U.S. for supporting this gigantic illegal business and crime against humanity? Even though the U.S. claims an extraterritorial power to certify, accuse and punish people and countries, it has failed to ratify any of the international treaties concerning this sensitive issue.
The United States must rethink on this matter and rectify [sic], particularly as to the application of policies and measures that are clearly against the international law; aggressive and unfair in the realm of human rights; in addition, they are dangerous for the international relations [sic] and unconstitutional in the light of [sic] the U.S Constitution [sic].
I am a Venezuelan citizen, I am a Bolivarian and a Latin-American. I am fully convinced of the ideals of independence, justice and freedom for which our liberators gave their lives and I am willing to submit to the same fate in the defense of our sovereignty, our Homeland and our People [sic].
Tareck El Aissami
Executive Vice President
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
NA Launches Special Commission to Investigate El Aissami
The National Assembly officially kicked off a special commission today tasked with investigating allegations that vice president Tareck El Aissami is connected to the drug trade.The commission will be headed by the parliament’s vice president, Freddy Guevara.
The commission will attempt to determine whether El Aissami and another man named in last week’s sanctions, Samark Lopez, have any connections to drug trafficking operations.
Guevara explained that the commission’s first move would be to request that the U.S. Department of the Treasury provide more information on the 13 corporate entities named in the sanctions in connection to El Aissami. The commission is scheduled to present a report on its findings to the National Assembly in 30 days.
Capriles: We Can’t Be “Useful Idiots”
Miranda state governor and leading opposition figure Henrique Capriles reacted to Jose Luis Zapatero’s arrival in Venezuela yesterday presumably to attempt to restart the dialogue between the opposition and the Maduro regime by voicing disdain at the idea.
On the possibility of sitting down with the PSUV for a new round of talks, Capriles said:
That’d be like putting on the same movie again. We won’t trip on the same rock twice.
In what is likely to be remembered as a pivotal moment in Venezuelan history, Capriles spoke before a crowd of tens of thousands of protesters in Caracas on October 26 of last year. The mass of frustrated protesters was just a few blocks away from the Miraflores Palace, the presidential residence, when Capriles spoke. As he addressed the crowd, it began to chant, “Miraflores! Miraflores!”, urging Capriles to lead it to Maduro’s residence.
At that key moment, Capriles told the crowd that they would not be going to Miraflores, because the opposition and the PSUV had agreed to engage in talks in an attempt to bring a peaceful solution to the country’s crisis. Those talks proved to be a failure due to an absolute lack of any kind of concrete result. However, many disenchanted opposition supporters would later claim that the talks did achieve a purpose: to knock the wind out of the opposition’s sails and put an end to a growing wave of protests that had seized the country by the end of October.
Capriles: Gov’t Afraid of DEA, Not OAE
Capriles also spoke on last week’s sanctions against vice president Tareck El Aissami out of the United States Department of the Treasury which allege that he is a “prominent drug trafficker”. Capriles said:
Maduro knows that it would be very difficult for him to run for president again. If he can’t, then it would be El Aissami (…) if Maduro were to resign today, or the party forced him to resign, or the army asked him to resign, who would be left in charge? A drug trafficker.
Capriles said that as a result of its alleged deep connections to drug trafficking, the Maduro regime is much more afraid of the Drug Enforcement Agency than it is of diplomatic bodies like the Organization of American States.
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