Published On: Tue, Jul 29th, 2014

Excerpts of column “Runrunes” (Rumors) of Tuesday, July 29

1528670_10154411186515615_1831167931937056238_nCONSUL? Following the release of Major General Hugo Carvajal Barrios, it is worth delving into some questions of the case that put in jeopardy, again, the efforts to refresh Venezuela-US relations, endangering as well the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the government of Aruba, the "happy island" so familiar and enjoyed by Venezuelans.

The arrival at the Venezuelan Consulate of the officer who for many years led the Venezuelan military intelligence and was a key piece for late President Hugo Chávez raised the alarm. The travel companion, who rented or owned the plane that transported him, a compadre and contractor of Barivén, was told that the affair had to do with the general only and he was recommended to return to Venezuela. First news on that day noted that the request of the US government through DEA would be effective after the appearances before the public prosecutor and authorities.  In spite of the success scored by the Venezuelan government with his release and transfer to Caracas, Carvajal was declared persona non grata in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. He was banned from entering any of its dependencies -Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire and the Netherlands; otherwise, he would be arrested.

There were doubts about his diplomatic immunity, because even though he was appointed as consul last January, he had not been accepted by the Netherlands yet. Last Sunday, the Netherlands did an about-turn when acknowledging that he was a "consul on the way to his incumbency."

Aruba and, to a lesser extent, the United States, were set aside in the decision.  Earlier, on Friday, the hearing judge had ruled that the detention of the diplomat was "in conformity with the law" and that the US application for extradition would be awaited.  Two days later, according to the explanation given by Peter Blanken, the Attorney General of Aruba, to AFP, at the time of the hearing that retained Carvajal in custody, "the Public Prosecutor Ministry queried the Foreign Office of the Kingdom of the Netherlands about the immunity of the diplomat and we were told he had no immunity. However, this Sunday, the very ministry sent a letter to our office saying that he had immunity. Therefore, we had to release him. Had we handle such information on Thursday, we would have not kept him detained." The rumors about a settlement with the Netherlands emerged right away. Some said that Dutch oil company Shell was getting ready to buy a chunk of Citgo (a subsidiary of state-run oil holding Pdvsa based in the United States), perhaps one of the refineries. Others would say that the procurement from Dutch holding Damen Shipyards of twelve patrol boats for the Venezuelan Navy, for the amount of USD 309,302,000 was conclusive. The flow of Venezuelan tourists to Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire; oil deals and Isla refinery, which, although by fits and starts, continues being an employment source for Curacao residents, influenced as well. Also, some business with other Dutch companies linked with the oil and gas sector counted at the time of summing trade relations. We will see...

By Nelson Bocaranda

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