Enter Makled, capo du jour

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Greetings earthlings!

As we continue working our transition to the new website, we’ll continue posting this week. One of the more interesting stories as of late is the tale of captured fugitive Walid Makled.

Makled and his brother, Abdala, were “businessmen” in the central Venezuelan state of Carabobo. Abdala was an independent candidate for mayor of Valencia in 2008, and got about 6.3% of the vote. Both brothers apparently have extensive links to former Carabobo Governor Luis Felipe Acosta Carles, a one-time chavista military hero (courtesy of his infamous “burp” while confiscating soda during the 2003 oil strike) who was later thrown under the bus by the Revolution.

The Makled brothers have been accused of being drug traffickers of the highest order. The brothers apparently had a large operation in the port of Puerto Cabello, which, in case you’re wondering, is in Carabobo state, is one of our country’s largest ports, and was controlled by the Carabobo state government. They were also part owners of Venezuelan airline Aeropostal.

I don’t generally believe in coincidence, but all of this transportation infrastructure sure comes in handy if you’re in the business of shipping drugs.

Back in 2008, a few days before the regional elections, well after Chávez had broken with Acosta Carles, the Venezuelan government raided one of the Makled brothers’ farms and apparently found large amounts of cocaine, airplanes, and other nifty toys that come in handy if you want to smuggle drugs. The brothers were apparently detained, along with a few members of the Carabobo state police who were guarding the farm, presumably at the behest of then-governor Acosta Carles. At around the same time, the patriarch of the family was kidnapped and later released.

Why the Makled brothers were not in jail is not clear to me, and I can’t find any record of them escaping jail. Regardless, Walid Makled disappeared into thin air, and the government promptly placed him on Interpol’s list of most wanted. They were also charged with murder.

Last August, Makled was captured in Colombia, and here is where things go from interesting to epic.

Makled immediately began talking, saying he kept many prominent chavistas in his payroll, including governors, high-ranking military officers, and even the brother of the current Interior Minister. He also claims to have helped the Chávez campaign for the 2004 Recall Referendum to the tune of $2 million, and that, in gratitude, the government gave him the rights to large portions of Puerto Cabello’s infrastructure, as well as access to the government’s urea business. He also says he has a paper trail proving his claims. In a separate interview, Makled claimed his family and the Interior Minister’s family are related, and that he is a personal friend with the Minister’s brother.

I have to say, I found his gleeful, unabasehd disposition to spill the beans somewhat charming.

Doubtlessly fearing what he knows, Hugo Chávez himself was on the record yesterday explicitly asking Colombia to extradite him to Venezuela. The tricky part is that the Americans want him extradited as well.

Colombian president Santos and Hugo Chávez have been remarkably chummy the last few months, so this begs the question: will the Colombian judiciary extradite him to Venezuela, or to the US?

There’s no doubt that Makled wants to be extradited to the US, as he probably fears the worst if he is brought back to Venezuela. A lawyer for the family is nervously spinning away, denying any links with drug smuggling and political financing, saying the Makleds are a simple Syrian family of businessmen, and that Walid only has a “fifth-grade education.”

Will Santos put relations with Venezuela above anything else? Or will he cow to the US and send him there instead? Given how this is a judicial procedure, does he even have a choice? And how will Hugo Chávez react if Makled is sent to the US?

Frame this as just another amusing page in the mafia war that our country’s politics have become.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thanks for posting on this.
    A couple of remarks:
    1) the government of Carabobo doesn’t control the ports or airports anymore. Chavismo took them away from the governor -as it did in Venezuela’s third most important state, Zulia- as soon as the alternative forces were elected.
    Since then the port has been transformed into a complete disaster (it was already going to pot with Carlez as governor). Now Puerto Cabello’s harbour is controlled by the milicos. Daniel can tell you stories and stories.
    2) it seems to me Santos will give Makled to Hugo. Venezuela’s regime apparently “helped” in the release of a Colombian woman kidnapped recently and I am sure Hugo promised Santos loads and loads of things in order to get Makled on a plate.
    3) Abdala’s votes came mostly from the South. They were distributing gifts galore to try to win (mixers, refrigerators, usual heavy-weight “electoral” stuff).

    • Thanks Kepler. Updated.

      By the way, I have to say, posting with this software is easier than with the previous one. Thank you, WordPress!

    • Zulia, venezuela’s third most important state? in GDP, population or
      contribution to the national budget?
      Because according to statistics, Zulia is first in all three 😉

    • Zulia is definitely a key state. Not for nothing does it send so many deputies. Population is an important factor.
      GDP and contribution to the national budget go more or less together, but we know how that goes so together with oil in Venezuela and who controls it. I mean strategically, of course. You have to take into account Carabobo with its industries together with its closeness to Caracas, to the very Llanos plus the key port of Puerto Cabello and Miranda, which is an extension to the Capital Districts and makes up a big part of the national capital and builds another link to the Llanos. Zulia comes to a respectable third in that strategic sense, of course.
      :-p

    • right, cause venezuela is so industrialized… sighs….

      zulia has twice the population of carabobo, and a gdp twice as big too, and its contribution to the national bugdet is 70% bigger than that of carabobo, you take zulia out of the equation, and the national budget fall to a 70% of what it is right now. sadly for you and everyone else, oil is what keeps the economy going, and without the money that comes from it, this country would be bankrupt.
      The rest is subjective, maybe carabobo is right next to caracas and all that, but caracas and all that is not the whole country.
      When we becomes a industrialized nation and carabobo becomes the biggest economy in the nation, then we can talk, but as it right now, zulia is still the state that keeps the economy flowing, and in everysense, gdp, more than strategic location, is what makes a region more important than other.
      Specially in this chavista venezuela, were private insdustry shrink every year.

    • So, for you… carabobo is more important because zulia produce oil and the oil is controlled by the government, right…

      you are going against every study, and economist that had evaluated venezuelan regional economy.
      Y sinceramente, ese neoregionalismo carabobeno, esta bien desfasado, estas hablando de un estado con una economía no mayor a los 20.000 millones de dolares y otro con una economía de mas de 50.000 millones de dolares (casi igual a la economía del ecuador) y un estado que no solo produce petroleo, pero que produce muchos de sus derivados y es uno de los principales estados agrícolas de la nación.
      Si quitas carabobo, lo que se produce ahí se puede importar y la perdida del aporte del presupuesto nacional seria menor del 7 %, pero si quitas al zulia, pierdes mas del 30% del presupuesto nacional y el 50% de la exportacion petrolera venezolana.
      Pero en fin, carabobo es mas importante por que esta mas cerca de caracas… lol

  2. Beyond the “quid pro quo” involved in the kidnapped woman Kepler refers to, Chavez has twice stated to Santos, publicly, that handing over Makled to Venezuela for “trial” is not only desired, but expected.

    Chavez also stated from Cuba that Makled is part of a plan by who else, “The Evil Empire”, to “take over” Venezuela.

    I guess he said this becasue Makled has been quoted as saying he has enough evidence to cause the US to do a “Noriega” on Chavez.

    Ay papaito!

  3. Here’s my prediction: Makled will be extradited to Venezuela. Depending on the quality of his evidence, he will either be sent to the worst dungeon, or to lofty accommodations.

    Santos has had to eat too much crap to put rebuild bilateral relations. He would be screwing everything up if he were to turn Makled over to the Americans. Besides, the Americans have not been helping Colombia as of late – witness the Free Trade Agreement languishing in the American Congress.

    • I’m afraid that can happen and there is little the Anglo Americans can do at this stage. I wonder if there is a third possibility: for us to ask the Colombian government to let Interpol or someone like that interview Makled and let Makled provide all the information he has. But perhaps Makled won’t be willing to cooperate unless he is sent to the USA.
      Hm…

  4. Seems to me that Makled should be videotaping testimony now that he can deposit with his attorney to be used as blackmail in case Chavez wants to do anything other than trot out the fatted calf when he is extradited to Venezuela.

  5. The Chavez administration’s ties with individuals in the South American botanical import/export business are quite known to those who have the patience to dig through the layers of rubbish this government spews to cover its tracks. What surprises me is that very few newspapers in Venezuela appear to be treating the Makled case with the seriousness it deserves. Same goes with corruption at PDVAL, the ley electoral which cost the opposition god knows how many seats…etc. This administration leaves a trail long enough to see from space, but as long as Venezuelan newspapers continue with this “see no evil hear no evil” game, very little heat will be brought on Chavez and his cronies.

  6. I believe JC is right. It will be a cold day in hell when Makled walks into a Manhattan courtroom. And it will not be in a dungeon that they put him in, in Caracas.

    And Roy, you can bet dollars to donuts that Makled has it all written, on video, in triplicate and in a vault in Switzerland with an “open in the event of my death” label on it. He already admitted as much to the Colombians when he gave them testimony.

    The Manhattan DA has requested his extradition based on the testimony so far given, but there is way more left to say. You can be sure he has given the Colombians some, but not all. The rest is reserved to whover makes him the best offer.

    • Toward the end of that interview, he starts naming names of people involved in his operations: Gral. Hugo Carvajal, Gral. Rangel Silva (who is in the news today for saying the Armed Forces would not tolerate the opposition winning), Gral. Mota Dominguez. Fun!

    • Oh, and Gral. Nestor Reverol is also involved. Reverol is the chief of the Venezuelan anti-drug office. Makled claims Reverol is stealing from him.

  7. I’m wondering why the use of the verb “cow” in the post is in reference to USA and not something at least analogous in reference to Venezuela?

  8. Another possible option…

    Couldn’t the Colombians just keep him for themselves? Sure, this will hurt the relations with Venezuela but looks significantly less important when compared to sending Makled to the US. The Colombians can make a strong case for wanting to keep him and could at least offer Makled a fair trial (and with heavy influence from Washington – a plus, given Colombia’s true opinions on Chavez). By keeping him, Colombia would be able to slip away without having to choose between Venezuela and the US… or at least not immediately.

    This would, however, hurt the relations with Venezuela in the mid-term.

  9. I think he will be extradited to Venezuela so he can really face justice and pay for his crimes…
    … after he completes a long sentence in the US.

  10. This is what I think is going to happen. Colombia will keep him for as long as they can, longer than 2012. That’s going to keep Chavez under control as they sell to Venezuela all the food they need. Is like keeping the Farc computers for a rainy day. Remember the Dea were the people that tracked Makled and they have all the information also. I’m pretty sure the Usa will go along with Colombia in keeping that guy in Colombia. Have you seem how he’s been made available for interviews?. That’s weird if he were to be extradited anywhere. I will say that that’s the way is been orquestrated by Usa, its like telling Chavez he’ll get it mañana and mañana.

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