From the Wall Street Journal:
Venezuela is fast becoming a major hub for cocaine trafficking in the Western Hemisphere, according to a report written by the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress. The report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office is sure to raise tensions between Venezuela and the U.S. at a delicate moment in the two countries’ often testy relations.
The report, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, blames widespread government corruption for increases in cocaine transshipments through Venezuela. Such shipments have soared more than fourfold to 260 metric tons in 2007 from 60 metric tons in 2004 as the government of President Hugo Chávez has systematically slashed its antinarcotics cooperation efforts with the U.S., according to the report.
“A high level of corruption within the Venezuelan government, military and other law enforcement and security forces contributes to the permissive environment,” says the report, scheduled to be released this month. Many of the drug shipments come from Colombian “illegal armed groups” such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the report says, which the Venezuelan government provides with “a lifeline” of support and a haven within Venezuela. FARC is a communist guerrilla group.