Leftist Chile Recalls Envoy to Venezuela After Regime Denies Existence of Tren de Aragua

General view of the Chilean consulate in Caracas on April 11, 2024. Chilean President Gabr
JUAN BARRETO/AFP via Getty Images

Chilean far-left President Gabriel Boric recalled his ambassador to Caracas, Venezuela, on Thursday after the socialist regime there denied the existence of the Tren de Aragua transnational criminal organization.

Chile is one of several countries where the Tren de Aragua, a criminal organization that began as a local trade union gang in the eponymous Venezuelan state of Aragua in 2012, has a confirmed criminal presence that has affected the country’s security.

Boric made the announcement in remarks during an official event, describing the socialist regime’s denial of the existence of the criminal organization as a “grave insult” to the families and countries that it has victimized.

“The recent irresponsible statements by the Venezuelan foreign minister, which deny the existence of the Tren de Aragua, a criminal group known for its illicit activities in Chile and throughout the South American region, are deeply disturbing and constitute a grave insult to those who have been victims of this organization and also to their families,” Boric said. “We take it as an insult also to the states that have been victims of the Tren de Aragua.”

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yvan Gil claimed this week that the Tren de Aragua does not exist and is part of a fictional “international media invention” meant to attack the rogue socialist regime.

Boric continued in his remarks by condemning Gil’s “lack of commitment to necessary international security cooperation,” adding the remark “also demonstrates a refusal to effectively address the transnational problems of organized crime.”

The Chilean president further explained that Chile’s decision to recall its ambassador in Caracas is intended to collect detailed information about the current situation in Venezuela and to evaluate all necessary measures to protect Chile’s interests and the security of its citizens.

Boric’s condemnation of Gil’s denial of Tren de Aragua’s existence echoes statements by Chilean Interior Minister Carolina Tohá this week — who, much like Boric, described the Venezuelan foreign minister’s remarks as an “insult” to Chilean and Latin American citizens alike.

“It is very impressive. Venezuela calls itself a Bolivarian country and the truth is that Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Latin American peoples have suffered heavily from the scourge of this criminal gang,” Tohá told reporters on Tuesday.

“People have lost their families, the tranquility of their neighborhoods and have lost their businesses because of it,” she added.

Chile’s President Gabriel Boric leaves the Congress after his inauguration ceremony in Valparaiso, Chile, on March 11, 2022. (CLAUDIO REYES/AFP via Getty Images)

The regime of dictator Nicolás Maduro has repeatedly claimed it “dismantled” the criminal organization in September 2023 in a raid on the Tocorón prison, located in Aragua. The prison, which the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) defended for years, functioned as Tren de Aragua’s main headquarters and had been remodeled from the inside out to feature a wide array of amenities such as nightclubs, pools, baseball fields, private banking offices, and a zoo.

It is largely believed that the Maduro regime negotiated with Tren de Aragua prior to raiding the prison as the organizations’ leader, Héctor “the Child” Guerrero, seemingly disappeared from the prison shortly before the raid alongside other top members of the organization. Guerrero’s whereabouts remain unknown since the raid. Guerrero was “serving” a 17-year prison sentence beginning in 2018 on multiple convictions of homicide, drug trafficking, and other charges.

The “loss” of its main headquarters did not stop the now-transnational criminal organization from continuing its activities, which range from homicide, theft, extortion, contraband, and kidnapping to drug, human, and arms trafficking. Peru, another of the countries logging high Tren de Aragua’s activity, recently declared the organization the “biggest threat” to its society.

Tren de Aragua members also have a confirmed presence in several United States cities after members of the organization reportedly crossed the southern border and requested asylum from U.S. authorities.

Chilean authorities have linked the Tren de Aragua with the abduction and murder of Venezuelan dissident Ronald Ojeda, a former member of the Venezuelan military that lived in exile in Chile.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and first lady Cilia Flores greet supporters during a rally to commemorate 20 years of the anti-imperialist declaration of the late former President Hugo Chavez in Caracas on February 29, 2024. (FEDERICO PARRA/AFP via Getty Images)

In February, men associated with the Tren de Aragua allegedly pretended to be members of Chile’s immigration police to abduct Ojeda from his residence. Ojeda’s body was found buried inside a suitcase under a concrete structure ten days later.

On Thursday, Chilean prosecutor Héctor Barros, who is overseeing the investigation into Ojeda’s death, announced that its office had determined Ojeda’s death was politically motivated and planned in Venezuela. In March, Chilean authorities found that one of the suspects in Ojeda’s assassination worked for the Venezuelan government in 2015.

Colombia’s Caracol Noticias published a report on April 1 stating that, based on secret documentation reviewed by the news channel — including documents from U.S. officials who operate in Latin America — the Tren de Aragua is one of the criminal organizations the Maduro regime has enlisted to persecute and kill Venezuelan dissidents in foreign countries.

The Maduro regime denied the report, denouncing it as part of an international “media operation” to discredit the authoritarian regime.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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