Venezuela, US clash at OAS over fight against drug trafficking
( dpa ) - The ambassadors of Venezuela and the United States at the Organization of American States (OAS) clashed Wednesday over the efforts of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to fight drug trafficking.
Venezuelan representative Jorge Valero claimed the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had carried out "conspirative" activities and "espionage" while it worked in Venezuela until 2005, when the Chavez government broke cooperation agreements with the United States and expelled representatives of the agency.
Valero claimed the DEA "promotes the interference of the United States government in the internal affairs of other countries, using anti-drug cooperation as a pretext."
US Ambassador Robert Manzanares replied, "It is difficult to understand how a country dedicated to fighting drug trafficking could simultaneously support FARC, carrying out a campaign to legitimize this group which has been rejected the world over."
The left-wing populist Chavez has called upon the world to recognize the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as an insurgent group rather than a terrorist organization. The governments of Colombia, the United States and other western countries have so far refused to remove FARC from their lists of terrorist groups.
The latest clash between Venezuela and the US was sparked by White House anti-drug czar John Walters, who during a visit last weekend to Bogota accused Chavez of being a "major facilitator" in cocaine traffic. Walters said Venezuela has become a "haven" for cocaine shipments from neighbouring Colombia.