By Chris Carlson
Mérida, December 13, 2007, (venezuelanalysis.com) Government authorities from both Venezuela and Argentina accused the United States of carrying out a smear campaign against them yesterday after US officials arrested four individuals accused of being agents of the Venezuelan government. US officials alleged that the arrested individuals were involved in trying to cover up an "international scandal" between Venezuela and Argentina, but both countries have rejected the claims.
Three Venezuelan citizens and one Uruguayan citizen were arrested in Miami on Tuesday night and appeared before a federal court yesterday on charges of
The Assistant US Attorney General for National Security Kenneth Wainstein accused the defendants of "coordinating and participating in a series of meetings" with the Venezuelan-American Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson, who was involved in the illegal trafficking of nearly US$ 800,000 from Venezuela to Argentina last August.
Argentinean customs officials caught Antonini on August 4th of this year attempting to enter the country with a suitcase that contained US$ 790,000. Argentinean officials confiscated the money, but Antonini returned to his home in South Florida.
According to the Assistant Attorney General, the four defendants were working on behalf of the Venezuelan government to get Antonini's help in covering up the source of the money, which, according to US officials, was for "the presidential campaign of Cristina [Fernandez] Kirchner."
But both the Argentinean and Venezuelan governments have rejected the claims, calling them a "desperate attempt" to tarnish the growing ties between the two countries. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro assured that the case was part of a U.S. plan to damage Venezuela's image.
President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez also rejected the claims, comparing them to an American movie in which "you never know how much is true and how much is a lie." The Argentinean president assured that she "would not be pressured," and insisted that she would maintain her close ties to the Venezuelan government.
President Fernandez, without actually mentioning the United States, accused the country of wanting to subordinate them to their own interests.
But the president assured that she would continue efforts to strengthen Mercosur, the Bank of the South, and the construction of a "multilateral world."
Argentinean cabinet member Alberto Fernandez, who called the case a "US intelligence operation," also explained that the accusations of the US officials are unlikely to be true. He pointed out that Antonini was detained by the Argentinean officials upon entering the country, and the money was confiscated. Fernandez explained that if the Chavez government wanted to bring in money to finance the campaign of Cristina Fernandez, they could have easily done it a few days later when President Chavez visited the country.
Fernandez called on the United States to answer Argentina's request for the extradition of Antonini Wilson, so that they can carry out an investigation with regards to the $800,000.