We must separate crime from politics by prosecuting the heads of narco-states (now is Honduras, but Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, and Nicaragua should follow)

Carlos Sánchez Berzaín

To control political power to pursue narcotics’ trafficking activities has become the deplorable reality in the Americas of this 21st century with rulers that have transformed their countries into narco-States. The security these rulers pursue, as heads of narco-States in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua is to have impunity and to end democracy in order to indefinitely hold power. However, when democracy grants the alternation of political power -such it was shown in Honduras- we can separate crime from politics by prosecuting the heads of narco-States.

History shows that since approximately 1982, a relationship developed between Pablo Escobar the Colombian narcotics’ trafficker and Roberto Suarez Gomez the Bolivian narcotics’ trafficker, with Cuba’s regime, a relationship that turned Cuba into the first Narco-State of the Americas. When this was exposed, it ostensibly ended with the execution by firing squad of General Arnaldo Ochoa and Colonel Antonio de la Guardia to coverup the direct participation of Fidel and Raul Castro, as is narrated in Chapter 11 “The Cuban Connection” of Ayda Levy’s book titled “El Rey de la Cocaina”.

Narcotics’ trafficking is one of the most serious transnational crimes and within the legal framework of the United Nations’ worldwide control of drugs, there are three international treaties; The 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs amended by the 1972 protocol, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 United Nations’ Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. The Convention against Transnational Organized Crime or the Palermo Convention adopted in 2000, tops off the UN’s system for the fight against crime.

Narco-States are self-identifiable because their rulers utilize the States’ powers of being “subject of international law” to defend their illicit activities in forums and to take measures for the protection and benefit of narcotics’ trafficking. In the decade of the sixties, Cuba’s dictatorship proclaimed as a “revolutionary action” to flood the United States with illicit drugs in order to exterminate its youth thus making narcotics’ trafficking a revolutionary act.

In April of 2016, the leader of the illegal coca-leaf harvesters of Bolivia, turned into the Commander-In-Chief of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, at the United Nations Assembly on narcotics’ trafficking proclaimed the “nationalization of the fight against narcotics’ trafficking” further stating that “the fight against narcotics’ trafficking is an instrument of North-American imperialism for the oppression of the peoples”. He defended -with coca-leaves in his hands- the expansion of coca harvesting that along with his “coca-leaf harvester federations” produce more cocaine.

The demonizing of the United States “Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)” has been and still is, one of the primary narcotics’ trafficking strategies by those who hold power in the countries they control. The DEA was expelled; from Venezuela with Chavez-Maduro, from Bolivia with Morales, from Ecuador with Correa. DEA is also accused as an instrument of imperialism by all spokespersons of the 21st Century Socialism.

In Honduras, narcotics’ trafficking penetration into politics was a constant, but Juan Orlando Hernandez institutionalized the narco-State. Albeit, Hernandez is not part of the 21st Century Socialism group, he constructed his ascent into power as part of the opposition and in 2009 he participated in the destitution of former president Zelaya. In 2010 he was the president of the National Congress and in 2013 through questionable elections, he assumed the presidency -in 2014- and remained there with an also questionable reelection in 2018.

The case of the former President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernandez, today incarcerated and with his pending extradition for prosecution in criminal courts of the United States in a federal trial charging him with three criminal counts associated with a “conspiracy to traffic thousands of kilograms of drugs” in the Southern District of New York, makes him the first extraditable former head of a narco-State. It is the most important legal and political precedent to separate organized crime from politics.

There are on-going trials at the Southern District of New York, and in Florida against; “The Cartel of the Suns” (Cartel de los Soles in Spanish) of Nicolas Maduro and part of his criminal group, with rewards of $10 to $15 Million Dollars for the apprehension of each of the accused; conspiracy for narcotics’ trafficking against the former head of the Antinarcotics Police of Evo Morales, Maximiliano Davila, with a reward of $5 Million Dollars for information leading to his conviction and extradition; the pending extradition case of Hugo “El Pollo” Carvajal former Head of Intelligence of Venezuela’s dictatorship; the trial case of Alex Saab identified as “Maduro’s front man”… and others.

Narco-States have been laid bare and Juan Orlando Hernandez’s extradition order proves that IMPUNITY is the most important reason why narco-State dictators from Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua cling-on to power.

*Attorney & Political Scientist. Director of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy.

Translation from Spanish by Edgar L. Terrazas

Published in Spanish by Infobae.com Sunday March 20, 2022.

“The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author”.