Was immunity alone enough to free Carvajal?

The Prosecutor General of Aruba, Peter Blanken

The Prosecutor General of Aruba, Peter Blanken

There has been a lot of speculation on why the Kingdom of the Netherlands (sort-of) granted immunity to Carvajal and then let him go. We’ve said that immunity alone should not have been sufficient to protect Hugo Carvajal and have him delivered back home. Jose Ignacio Hernandez (@ignandez) has made some interesting points on what Holland said, and on the interpretation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations to this respect.

The Convention clearly states that consular officers will not be subject to the jurisdiction of the receiving state (Aruba) for acts performed in the exercise of consular functions. It is clear that immunity is not a license to kill. It does imply that the receiving state should provide extra care (and yes, some special treatment) if a consular officer is arrested, but a license to kill it is not. Nor to deal drugs for that matter.

On the personal inviolability of consular officers the Convention provides that:

Consular officers shall not be liable to arrest or detention pending trial, except in case of a grave crime and pursuant to a decision by the competent judicial authority.

There was a grave crime, and there was a decision by the competent authority. [But wait… he wasn’t a consular officer at the time! So, what the hell???]

Forget about legal and procedural excuses, Carvajal’s release was due to political or economic reasons. We coudl also jot it down to good’ol military thuggery. That’s all.


10 thoughts on “Was immunity alone enough to free Carvajal?

  1. The oil theory is certainly valid (and undoubtedly true) — but ~75% of Aruba’s GNP comes from tourism, a majority of which is from the States. Imagine the nice PR that could be generated if those Venezuelan warships were to park themselves, alongside the oil tankers that visibly inch by be the dozens each day, off Eagle Beach just to make a show…


  2. Not to pick a nit here, and God knows I would have loved to have seen that POS extradited to the US BUT:

    What crime did he commit in either Aruba or Holland? As far as I know, it is the US DOJ that has a warrant out for his arrest. So therefore one cannot argue that he loses immunity for crimes committed while nominated for Consul to Aruba unless he committed a crime in any of the ABC islands or Holland or any other country or territory governed by Holland.

    No doubt the Dutch were pressured where it hurts them the most, their wallets, and I’m sure that there were probably threats implied towards their personnel in Venezuela (just look at how US Diplos have been treated in Venz).

    I think that the USDOJ did not fully appreciate what the Dutch exposure to threats was, and that probably the authorities in Aruba were more than happy to help but in the end an executive decision was made by the Dutch Foreign Office and we are simply going to have to live with that.

    The (small)upside to this whole mess is that it brings forward to a larger audience that:

    A) The Venezuelan government names terrorist collaborators and drug smugglers to diplomatic posts. This will cause folks who heretofore didn’t realize this to take notice.

    B) Many Venezuelan officials will re-consider travel plans and will likely see more scrutiny when traveling to many other countries.

    C) Many consular postings (Like Cliver Alcala to Belgium) will be declined or made to go through many more hoops than before, forcing Venezuela to either start naming actual diplomats to posts or curtailing where regime stalwarts can be posted.

    Again, not a whole lotta upside, but it’s a start.


    • The most sense I’ve read on this. The guy was travelling on a diplomatic passport. Unless you want you’re own targetted in the same way, there’s no way you want to set a precedent by arresting and extraditing this guy.

      Secondly, and most importantly, why the hell was he arrested in the first place? Surely some quick calls were made to establish this guy was a big cheese? Or were the US just chancing their request with the Arubans? Unless there’s been some really poor adminstration on the Dutch side (a possibility) it seems as though there was some game playing.


      • Carvajal is on a list issued by the Office of Asset Control (US Dep. Of Treasury) that names him, Governor Rangel Silva and 2 others as Narcotics Distributors and Kingpins as well as providing FARC and ELN guerrillas with material help and safe haven in Venz.
        So yes, this guy is a big cheese.
        A warrant was unveiled at the time of his arrest issued in Florida that forms the basis for his arrest and the request for extradition.

        There was no poor administration by Aruba. They called Holland and got an initial interpretation such that they got the OK to arrest and comply with the DEA request

        The fact that 72 hours later the Dutch did a 180 is a testament to how much leverage and pressure Shell Oil and a Dutch Shipbuilder were able to exert over the Dutch Foreign Ministry in order to get this scumbag released.

        Some $300 million in contracts to supply barges and tenders plus Shell interest in Lake Maracaibo plus the refinery in Aruba were at stake


        • + Curacao + Bonaire (though it’s small potatoes). Timmerman already was helping the U. S. by going against Dutch economic interests, but in line with U.S.requests, in promoting increased European sanctions on Russia post-downed Malaysian flight, in order to help the U.S. try to contain the Ukraine situation. More economic difficulty for the Dutch was probably a little bit too much to bear, and the U. S. obviously agreed, although they were “Shocked, simply Shocked” by the. Carvajal decision.


        • Shell interests in Lake Maracaibo ?? Shell has been going short on Venezuela for a long time now , doubt that whats left is of much importance . Shipyard tenders to a broke Pdvsa ?? thats pure folly , if thats true , the dutch have lost all of their hard nosed commercial sense . I bargain that the threat involved a move against all dutch interests in Venezuela, an embargo on all agricultural shipments from Venezuela to the islands and specially the effect that a shut down of Curacao Refinery would have on that islands economy and the indirect impact such measure would have as Holland tried rescuing the overflow in unemployed curazolelos flowing to the dutch home land ,

          Its not diplomacy but an act of flagrant economic extortion that got Carvajal out of Aruba , such as only heavy handed gangsters use , two explanations for the regime resorting to such so brutal use of coercion agaisnt an influential european country , either they felt that it was a question of saving face before their own local constituency or they were desperate to prevent the disclosure of what a Carvajal in US hands would have revealed about the regimes deep corruption .

          This can have two negative consequences for the regime as people who really watch whats happening in Venezuela come to learn of this incident , one, international financial players will now known for sure that the regime is not to be relied upon to do anything responsible or even rational in their dealings with foreign parties if push comes to shove. and second next time around any initiative between the EU and Venezuela will be influenced by what holland has experienced first hand from the gangster regime of Venezuela.


      • The guy entered Aruba with a false-identity non-diplomatic Venezuelan passport (one of 2 in his possession at the time).


  3. Isn’t carrying multiple passports with multiple identities, plus ·$20.000 cash a crime?
    Despite what you say, diplomatic immunity IS a license to pretty much anything except killing.
    Even if he had killed someone i’m sure the result would’ve been the same. Despite all the legalese bullshit they claim to follow, they’re all rotten and corrupt.

    If The Hague is made up of these same people then we’re all in trouble(us the wishful thinkers who want to be proven wrong).The day The Hague puts people like the scum here in benesuela, the castros, the kims,the mubaraks, the mugabes or the al-assads i will promise you, i will surgically remove two thirds of my reproductive system.


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