So where does a Venezuelan VP get $150,000 to tell us he's not a drug dealer?
Venezuela's new vice president, Tareck el-Aissami, is in a pickle. It's not just that the country he runs is collapsing all around him, and that baying mobs are growing increasingly bold about seeing his kind swinging from a dictator's meat hook. Nor is it that the average weight loss of the average Venezuelan is now 19 pounds a year, for lack of food in the socialist price-controlled environment. No, his problem is that last Feb. 13, the U.S. Treasury put his name on something called "the Clinton List" – per the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, which includes a special list dating from 1999 of about 2,000 foreign officials who are accused, with absolutely sterling evidence and a high burden of proof, of being drug-trafficking kingpins. The standards to make this list are so high that a foreign official can sue the U.S. government if we get it wrong. Not a one of them has.
That includes el-Aissami, who, according to the New York Times:
"... facilitated shipments of narcotics from Venezuela, to include control over planes that leave from a Venezuelan air base, as well as control of drug routes through the ports in Venezuela," the department said.
Additionally "he oversaw or partially owned narcotics shipments of over 1,000 kilograms from Venezuela on multiple occasions, including those with the final destinations of Mexico and the United States," according to the statement.
And somehow, despite being a denizen of a beleaguered country with a collapsing currency, he somehow has enough money to shell out $150,000 for a full-page New York Times ad telling the U.S. Treasury he's not a drug dealer, and no, he isn't squirreling his assets here in the states – so quit looking, we suppose. Why he isn't spending his cash to sue Treasury instead to clear his name is unknown. Ever since Venezuela kicked the DEA out of its country, in 2005, the country has been awash with drugs – and the violence that comes of drug trafficking, making Caracas the most or second most dangerous city in the world.
Shouldn't he be spending his money on lawyers? Oh, he has those, too. In fact, he seems to have unlimited funds, even though he is only 42; doesn't come from a moneybags background; has never done a day's work in his life; and, until a few years ago, was just a left-wing student activist thug threatening people out in the country 'burbs of Venezuela. El-Aissami, in fact, has had a reputation as a Chavista thug for years. According to Bloomberg, he has been involved in violence and openly celebrated the 9/11 terror attacks on the U.S. But somehow it bothers him to be shut out of access to the decadent and unsocialist U.S. all the same. He sounds like one of the usuals of socialism the world over – and, according to the Treasury, a drug dealer to boot.
There's something ironic about this. How does a nothingburger Chavista official come up with $150,000 to instantly pay for a New York Times ad for public relations purposes instead of spending the cash to sue the daylights out of the Treasury Department to prove his innocence? He's getting the money from somewhere. What we want to know is exactly where.