The Surinamese friend

During his last visit to Caracas back in April, Dino Bouterse (pictured on the left) met with Valentin Santana, leader of armed colectivo La Piedrita.

Dino Bouterse, son of Suriname’s President Dési Bouterse was detained last week in Panama and then extradited to the United States to face charges of drug-smuggling and possession of an illegal weapon.

Mr. Bouterse has a history of convictions on multiple drug-trafficking charges, but after his father became President in 2010, he was named chief of an “anti-terrorism unit”, which gave him the chance to show off on Facebook.

What do Mr. Bouterse’s troubles have to do with Venezuela? Funny you should ask…

First, Dino was a frequent visitor to the country: his last trip was days after the April 14th presidential election, when he travelled to Caracas to show his support for Nicolás Maduro. During his visit, he went to the 23 de Enero neighborhood in Western Caracas and met members of the infamous, pro-government armed colectivo La Piedrita. In fact, he was interviewed in La Piedrita’s very own radio station (Yes, colectivos have radio stations, but I digress…).

Second, Mr. Bouterse’s recent drug operations allegedly included dealing with FARC elements inside Venezuelan territory, by exchanging cocaine for used AK-47s and ammo.

Meanwhile, his father Desi (Suriname’s strongman back in the 80’s and who was convicted in absentia by the Netherlands of drug-trafficking) has distanced himself from his son’s current ordeal by blaming the U.S. for “trying to embarass him”.

Why? Because at the same time of Dino’s arrest, Suriname assumed the Pro-Tempore Presidency of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). To the President’s credit, though, he sacked him from his government post and wants him to assume resposibility as the grown man he is.