By Caribbean News Now contributor
ORANJESTAD, Aruba -- On Sunday, authorities in Aruba released Venezuelan General Hugo ‘Pollo’ Carvajal, who had been arrested in Oranjestad last Wednesday night on a warrant from the United States. The US State Department expressed “disappointment” on Monday at the news of Carvajal's release.
Carvajal, who was head of Venezuela’s Directorate of Military Intelligence from 2004 to 2009, has been accused of a number of serious offences in a federal indictment dated May 16, 2013
, including assisting in the sale and trafficking of cocaine from Venezuela to Colombia, and providing narco-traffickers with protection from capture.
General Hugo Carvajal
In 2008, the US Treasury named Carvajal and another senior Venezuelan official as "materially assisting the narcotics trafficking activities of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)".
Carvajal was arrested when he arrived to serve as Venezuela's consul on the Dutch island of Aruba.
Venezuela argued that Carvajal had diplomatic immunity because he was appointed consul general in February, and the Netherlands on Sunday confirmed his diplomatic immunity but made him persona non grata, expelling him from the country.
In a statement on Monday morning, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said there are credible reports that Venezuela threatened the governments of Aruba, the Netherlands and others to force the release of Carvajal.
“We were deeply disappointed at the decision of the government of the Netherlands to order the release of wanted narcotics trafficker Hugo Carvajal on the basis of claims of immunity that are beyond established international norms. We made a legitimate request for Carvajal’s arrest in conformity with our treaty, which governs extraditions between the United States, the Netherlands, and Aruba. Carvajal is under indictment in the United States and is alleged to have used his former position as head of the Venezuelan military intelligence to assist the activities of narcotics traffickers. He’s been on the Department of Treasury’s kingpin list since 2008. He also used his official position to protect narcotics traffickers.
“We are also disturbed by credible reports that have come to us indicating the Venezuelan Government threatened the governments of Aruba, the Netherlands, and others to obtain this result. This is not the way law enforcement matters should be handled, and we will certainly continue our efforts to bring him to justice,” Psaki said.
When asked if there is any indication of Cuban government involvement in these actions by the Venezuelans to get the government of the Netherlands to release Carvajal, she said, “Not that I’m aware of.”