Venezuela makes a show of fighting drug smugglers

Reuters/NY Times:

The Venezuelan air force bombed a landing strip used to bring cocaine across the border from Colombia on Friday, several weeks after the United States criticized President Hugo Chavez's drug-fighting record.

A Reuters witness watched two fighter jets and a helicopter fire rockets and strafe the runway close to the border with machine gun fire to detect and destroy equipment and infrastructure used by drug cartels.

Venezuela was heavily criticized earlier this month in the U.S. State Department's annual narcotics report, which described the South American nation as "a major drug transit country with rampant high level corruption."

Venezuela shares a long border with Colombia, the world's top cocaine producer. The left-wing government of Chavez cut off cooperation with the United States in 2005 over accusations of espionage.

Traffickers often use illegal runaways to land aircraft packed with drugs en route to the United States or Europe. The army plans to destroy dozens of border runways in coming days.

Chavez says U.S. accusations about his country's drugs record are untrue and aimed at discrediting him.


Chavez does a pretty good job of discrediting himself.

Since the FARC laptops were recovered he has made a show of cooperating with Colombia on a couple of drug bust. He probably needs to do this to counter the potential charges in the International Criminal Court that he was threatened with at the time of his fuss over Colombia's attack on the terrorist camp in Ecuador.

From the description Reuters got of the "attack" it is not clear what was being attacked other than an air strip, but the type of attack described is not one that would put it out of commission. Special munitions are needed to make a runway unusable and there is no indication they were used here. Strafing a runway is not particularly productive unless there is someone or some equipment on it. There is no indication that any equipment was actually detected or destroyed.

If Venezuela is really serious they would invite the DEA back in.


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