Drug smuggling: Venezuela’s latest problem

Eduardo Samán (in red shirt) drops a bombshell on VTV.

So, you think Venezuela has always had a drug smuggling problem, and that it’s cocaine, marijuana, and other street drugs, being exported overseas with Venezuela as a trans-shipment point? Au contraire, mon frère. The latest drug-smuggling problem in Venezuela isn’t coke, and indeed it’s not about silly gringos getting high on whatever they can shove up their foolish noses. Nor are the drugs coming into Venezuela from Colombia, as you might have expected. No, these drugs are legit pharmaceuticals, produced domestically from imported materials, being smuggled out of Venezuela across the Colombian border for profit. And a former government minister and head of a federal agency has denounced the problem on national TV:

According to former minister of commerce and president of INDEPABIS, Eduardo Samán, medicaments produced in Venezuela and imported with preferential dollars are being smuggled out via Maracaibo.

“They’re taking them out and they’re not just mafias. It’s somebody who managed to buy a certain number of medicaments in a pharmacy, knowing that taking them across the border could make a big profit. This has to be looked into,” said Samán, on the VTV program “En Tres y Dos”.

For Samán, it’s important that we be able to “rescue an industry which we know has a structural problem, which is the dependence on primary materials which are imported, depending on dollars, and we have a difficulty due to the drop in oil prices.”

He emphasized that “there is a great dependence on things [imported] from abroad, it’s a great opportunity to begin substituting things, because people are always looking for substitutes. There are a number of primary materials which could come from plants, from medicinal plant extracts, cultivating plants.”

Translation mine.

What Eduardo Samán is talking about is growing primary materials in Venezuela, rather than importing them from abroad only to watch the final product disappear across the Colombian border in a smuggler’s pack.

And who are the smugglers? Possibly just ordinary Venezuelans lacking a better paying job; but a more likely candidate is an organized crime ring with ties to the political right-wing, whose objective is to unseat the Maduro government with political destabilization caused by shortages of basic goods…such as, say, badly needed pharmaceuticals. And they’ve been at that game for as long as Venezuela has had progressive leaders…starting with Chavecito.

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