Both the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, and his Vice President Tareck El Aissami, denied categorically all the accusations made last Monday by the United States Treasury Department regarding El Aissami links with drug-trafficking business.

El Aissami has already been sanctioned by the United States government as any American cannot do any kind of business with him, along with all his assets in the country being frozen. For this reason, Mr. Maduro automatically reacted as he has demanded a public apology that must come directly from the American government.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro alongside Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami on February 14, 2017. Image credit: Miraflores Press via EFE.

“Venezuela will respond, step by step, with balance and force. They will retract and apologize publicly to our vice president. He (El Aissami) has delivered the strongest blows against the heads of drug trafficking,” Nicolas Maduro said on national television after the news of the blacklisting of Mr. El Aissami by the Treasury Department went public.

Both Venezuela and the United States have almost 10 years without formal diplomatic relationships, as there is no presence of each one’s ambassadors in any of the countries. However, President Maduro stated that he will call the chargé d’affaires of the United States Embassy in Caracas to submit a formal complaint. In the same issue, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry published a statement in which the allegations are condemned as “they constitute an infamy against the highest authority of the state.”

On the other hand, Mr. El Aissami responded to the allegations made by the American government with a set of defiant tweets in his personal Twitter account. “We shall not be distracted by these miserable provocations,” and “We will see this vile aggression dispelled,” were part of the qualifications the Vice President issued on the social network.

El Aissami then stated on national television that he would not let these false accusations divert him from solving the economic and financial collapse in which Venezuela is immersed in.

Which are the allegations El Aissami is facing?

According to official information from the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, Mr. El Aissami must be considered as both a “drug trafficker” and a “kingpin.” In the announced sanctions, the agency alleged that Mr. El Aissami along with another associate have been protecting distinct kingpins as well as moved considerable amounts of drugs within Venezuela’s territory. Mr. El Aissami could have used its position as governor of one of Venezuela’s states to facilitate all the illicit business.

Among the accusations presented by the federal office, there is the allegation of El Aissami protecting one of Colombia’s most wanted drug lords as well as the direct links between the Vice President and the “Los Zetas” cartel in Mexico.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on February 14, 2017. Image credit: Miraflores Press via EFE.

The office stated that El Aissami had control of several mobilization strategies for drugs inside and out of Venezuela. The facilitation of shipments and the total control of airports and ports made possible for El Aissami to dominate all the drug routes necessary for its trafficking business, the department says. According to the investigation, Mr. El Aissami has assets of tens of millions of dollars in the U.S. that could be related to the drug-trafficking business.

Source: The New York Times