September 12, 2008

U.S.: Venezuelan Officials Help FARC

Two top Venezuelan officials and a former official have helped the Colombian FARC in drug dealing, the U.S. Treasury Department said Friday.

Also Friday, the State Department said that the expulsion of U.S. ambassadors from Bolivia and Venezuela show the weaknesses of those country's leaders.

The designation of the Venezuelan officials as FARC supporters allows the government to freeze any assets they have in the United States.

"Today's designation exposes two senior Venezuelan government officials and one former official who armed, abetted, and funded the FARC, even as it terrorized and kidnapped innocents," said Adam J. Szubin, Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control. "This is OFAC's sixth action in the last 10 months against the FARC.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, better known by its Spanish acronym FARC, is a nominally left-wing guerrilla group.

Those named by the OFAC are Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios, the military intelligence chief of Venezuela; Henry de Jesus Rangel Silva, head of intelligence and prevention services; and former Minister of Justice Ramon Emilio Rodriguez Chacin, who stepped down Monday.

Sean McCormack, a State Department spokesman, said that presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela exposed their own weakness with their actions.