A few months ago, Nicolás Maduro appointed former general Hugo Carvajal to be Consul General of Venezuela to the Dutch island of Aruba. Yesterday, as Carvajal laid low in the island waiting for the Dutch government to approve his position, he was detained. The US had asked the Netherlands to incarcerate and extradite him.
Carvajal was head of Venezuela’s military intelligence (DGIM) for years. A high-ranking chavista military if there ever was one, he was a close confidant of Hugo Chávez, and is suspected of aiding and abetting Colombia’s FARC guerrillas. Ironically, among other posts he also headed the National Office against Organized Crime.
This 2008 story on Carvajal by the Colombian magazine Semana (in Spanish) is well worth a read. The story includes everything: torture, drug smuggling, coordination with the guerrillas. Una joyita, puej. The money quote is a whopper:
Although all of the aforementioned events leave serious doubts as to General Carvajal’s actions, perhaps the most serious of them all has to do with the role the DGIM (military intelligence) chief played in the torture and murder of two members of the Colombian army in Venezuelan territory. In april of 2007, SEMANA told the story of the murder of Capt. Camilo González and Corporal Gregorio Martínez. The Colombian military members had infiltrated Venezuelan territory to track down Colombian guerrilla members who were based in that country. Yet they were discovered, and brutally tortured and murdered in the headquarters of the National Guard in Santa Bárbara (Zulia state).
“The ones who discover the Colombian military and realize they are doing intelligence work are police officers from the Santa Bárbara police department. They capture them and take them to the National Guard’s Aerial Support Command Center Number 1. From there, they alert General Carvajal of the capture, and he sends a DGIM coronel. He is in charge of torturing the Colombians for several days. In some of the interrogatories, there was an alleged member of the (Colombian guerrilal group) ELN. After getting all the information, the coronel calls General Carvajal to ask what they should do with them. Carvajal gave the order to execute them. He did it because he know that, since they were doing espionage, the Colombian government could not raise their voice in protest, and besides, it sent a clear message to the Colombian military about what they could expect if they are discovered in Venezuela.”
This was told to SEMANA by a National Guard officer who was in service in the place where the Colombians were murdered. The officer told us that the coronel in charge of the torture is a close confidant of General Carvajal. “He (the coronel) worked in San Cristóbal in 2005, and he became a key contact between the DGIM and the Colombian guerrilla groups,” he said. “He was always closer to the ELN than to the FARC, so much so that the ELN people referred to him as ‘Comandante Raúl.'”
Carvajal is as close you get to a big fish in chavista Venezuela. Expect fireworks and brimstone from Caracas following his detention and possible extradition.
Lucky for Carvajal, he will probably get better treatment than the prisoners under his watch ever got.