In another extraordinary outburst, Venezuela’s socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro appeared to accuse Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos of drug-trafficking.
Many members of Maduro’s regime, and of his family, stand accused of being involved in the intercontinental drug trade.
In a speech broadcast on state television on Thursday, Maduro accused Santos of preventing the sale of medicine to Venezuela to prevent an outbreak of malaria in the southern state of Bolivar.
“Yesterday, we were planning to import some medicine from Colombia to treat malaria in the south, and as we had readied the payment the government prohibited the sale, fulfilling orders from the United States,” Maduro said.
According to statistics, there were 246,000 recorded cases of malaria in Venezuela in 2016. That figure is expected to more than double this year as the country’s humanitarian crisis continues to worsen.
“It’s alright, Santos, swallow your medicines, we are buying them from India and they will get here very soon. Swallow your medicine and your drugs and your cocaine, you must be very evil to do that,” he continued. “Get ready Santos … I hope you live for 100 years as the Bolivarian revolution will keep advancing to the dismay of the Colombian oligarchs.”
Maduro claimed that Santos “hates Venezuela” and serves as a “servant and vulture of imperialism.”
“They want to drown Venezuela and Venezuela has the power and ability to defeat all these supposed sanctions,” he added.
Maduro’s remarks also signal a further deterioration of relations between the neighboring countries, as Colombian leader Juan Manuel Santos joins the international community in condemning the Maduro regime’s rapid descent into dictatorship.
The allegations are made all the more extraordinary given the substantial evidence that Venezuelan authorities engage in high-level drug trafficking. In May, the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations asserted that drug traffickers, including the notorious Mexican Sinaloa and Zeta cartels, are allowed to freely operate in Venezuela without fear of arrest.
In January, Maduro also appointed the Lebanese-Syrian Venezuelan Tareck El Aissimi as vice president, despite his longstanding ties to many of Latin America’s major drug-trafficking cartels and Iranian terror group Hezbollah. El Aissami is sanctioned under the Drug Kingpin Act by the U.S. Treasury Department.
At a United Nations Security Council meeting on Monday, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley warned that Venezuela was becoming an “increasingly violent narco-state” presenting a risk to global security.
“The situation unfolding in Venezuela is more than a human tragedy,” Haley said during the meeting. “The crisis in Venezuela today poses a direct threat to international peace and security. Venezuela is an increasingly violent narco-state that threatens the region, the hemisphere, and the world.”