Giammattei Calls Venezuela a ‘Narco-state’

Giammattei Calls Venezuela a ‘Narco-state’

By Eugenia Sagastume / Voice of America
November 20, 2019

Guatemalan President-elect Alejandro Giammattei said that some of the main insecurity problems the Central American nation face are due to narcotrafficking, and Venezuela is a “narco-state” that contributes to drug shipments into Guatemalan territory.

Giammattei spoke at a press conference upon arriving in Guatemala from Venezuela, after being expelled from the country on October 12. He added that 80 percent of drugs crossing into Guatemala and a large part of Central American territories come from Venezuela by air and through the country’s seaports.

In his statement, he recounted his trip to Venezuela, where he said he was escorted by units of the Bolivarian National Guard from the moment he got off the plane and taken to migratory authorities to board a departing flight.

“That’s how dictatorships operate: one, by telling lies, just as they have been doing, and two, trying to justify their actions by saying that we had to request permission from a man [Nicolás Maduro] we do not recognize as the president of Venezuela,” he said.

Giammattei’s attempt to use his Italian passport to enter Venezuela also caused controversy. He said that after requesting advice from the Venezuelan Embassy, he decided to submit his Italian ID to avoid procedures that would take at least two months to complete.

In a press release, the Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs deplored and condemned the incident, and “called for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to respect the rights of any Guatemalan citizen who is in or  attempting to enter Venezuela.”

Giammattei urged member nations of the Organization of American States to unite as a humanitarian effort and ask Maduro to release all political prisoners, as well as to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid. He also reaffirmed his support for Interim President Juan Guaidó: “President Guaidó, you are not alone! Guatemala is vigilant and alert.”

He concluded with a warning message to Maduro: “We’ll see after January 14 [2020], when I am president with a diplomatic passport, if the Maduro government denies me entry to Venezuela to express my solidarity to the Venezuelan people and to the legitimate government of Venezuela.”