Wednesday, January 16, 2008

And where is Venezuela while all this is happening? 

In their constant efforts to tar the Venezuelan government with any possible misdeed imaginable the Venezuelan opposition and their U.S. backers have come up with some zingers. My personal favorite is the one where Chavez was having his military make secret shipments of money to Bin-Laden in Afghanistan. A close second would by the accusation that Margarita Island had become a major "terrorist" training ground (as if with the Bolivar so overvalued any terrorist could actually afford to train there!).

Over the past year or two one constant accusation that has been peddled by the U.S. government and then seized upon by the opposition is that Venezuela has become heavily involved in drug trafficking. This is rather rich considering that the U.S. is extremely close to and supportive of the two countries that are far and away the major source of drugs - Colombia and Mexico. Oops, make that three countries. I almost forgot how well the poppy crop in Afghanistan is doing under the U.S. puppet regime there.

Anyways, in press release after press release from the U.S. government we are told how badly Venezuela is doing in the "war on drugs".

What is interesting though, is that when reporters for a major newspaper do an investigative article detailing the booming cocaine trade and the huge money laundering business that it in turn spawns Venezuela never comes up - not a single time.

The article in question is from today's Wall Street Journal and is titled "Cocaine Boom in Europe Fuels New Laundering Tactics". To see who IS behind this scourge, lets take a look at some excerpts:

A cocaine boom in Europe and the continent's strong currency have combined to fuel a thriving industry: euro laundering.

With the euro approaching $1.50 and soaring demand for cocaine in countries like Spain and Italy, Europe has become a far more lucrative place to do business for Latin American drug cartels than in previous years.

To obscure the origins of the funds, and escape government scrutiny in the process, the cartels use a complex system to launder their proceeds -- much of which is landing on U.S. shores.

In late March, U.S. authorities arrested a man carrying a leather duffel bag who had just landed at Los Angeles International Airport on a flight from Santiago, Chile. Inside the bag was more than $1.9 million in cash, mostly in bundles of €500 and €200 notes.

U.S. and Chilean law enforcement officials believe the man was at the end of a money-laundering trail that begins in Europe. Over a period of four and a half years, he and his associates flew to the U.S. from Latin America some 280 times, openly toting more than $244 million worth of euros into the country, according to documents in a case brought by federal authorities in U.S. District Court in New York.

It later turns out that all that money and hundreds of millions more was being laundered through Chile. No, that is not a typo, "through Chile". Yes the supposed poster child of law and order, transparency, incorruptability and free markets is making a very pretty penny off of laundering drug money. Who'd have thunk?

And what is even more ironic is the money being laundered is coming from Spain and ultimately being sent on to the United States. So why go so far out of your way to Chile when other countries, such as Venezuela, would be so much closer? Oh I forgot, those pain in the ass Cadivi folks must make money laundering a bitch.

Consumption of the drug has soared in much of Western Europe, according to a report released last year by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. In Italy, use of the drug rose to 2.1% of the general population in 2005 from 1.1% just four years earlier. In France, it tripled from 2000 to 2005, from 0.2% to 0.6% of the adult population. Cocaine use in England doubled from 1998 to 2006, according to Britain's National Health Service, to 2.4% among adults.

Drug consumption is booming in Europe. Well, I guess economic success does have its rewards. Funny how in crying about the "drug problem" these countries don't ever seem to pin much blame on themselves. Well, come to think of it, this is another reason why it is handy having plenty of poor third world countries around. Not only can you get cheap labor from them and export your toxic garbage to them but you can even blame your own problems on them. I mean, c'mon, if it weren't for those F@#*ing Colombians no-one in New York, or London, or Rome or Paris, would ever snort cocaine!

By the way, later in the article it was pointed out that Spain has now surpassed the U.S. in the percentage of its citizens who use cocaine and become number one in the world. Funny, a couple of weeks ago there was much handwringing in the U.S. that Toyota had passed General Motors to become the largest automobile company in the world. Personally, I think that the Europeans can now afford to snort more cocaine than we can is much more embarrassing.

The purpose of money-laundering is to disguise the criminal origins of ill-gotten gains so the funds appear legitimate. In most cases, laundering also helps criminals escape the notice of tax collectors and law-enforcement officials, boosting the value of their illegal proceeds.

Particularly since 9/11, tightened antilaundering regulations, known by banks as "know your customer" rules, have forced drug cartels to use more circuitous routes to circulate their funds around the globe.

For starters, the drug cartels do not themselves bring their narco-euros to the U.S. Instead, they usually sell their euros to South American black-market currency brokers or to foreign-exchange houses, known in Spanish as casas de cambio. The casas' business as currency-exchange houses gives them a natural cover for moving large amounts of cash.

But in South America, there are few if any legitimate buyers for the huge sums of euros that the casas obtain -- directly or indirectly -- from the traffickers. So the casas funnel most of the narco-euros, sometimes via middlemen, through a chain of exchange houses in countries like Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Chile, says the DEA's Mr. Semesky.

Well, it looks like when it comes to money laundering Venezuela must be an also-ran. They obviously aren't up there with the big boys like Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Chile.

To reporters covering the drug trade Venezuela may not rate even a mention. But rest assured, the D.E.A. and State Department are probably at this very moment concacting reports telling us just how in the middle of all this Venezuela really is.

After all Chavez isn't fooling anyone by pretending to spend his time working on roads in Venezuela. Europeans are busy snorting themselves to death and some way, some how, that rascal Chavez must be in the middle of it. Of course we know it can't be the fault of Uribe, Calderon, or Karzia. And it sure as hell can't be the fault of Europeans themselves. So who else could it be?

Shame on these reporters for the Wall Street Journal that they didn't figure this all out with simple deductive logic.


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