DECEMBER 14, 2007
An international political scandal involving the socialist regimes of two Latin American countries and a confiscated suitcase stuffed with nearly $1 million has roots in south Florida where four men have been indicted for acting as agents of a foreign government.
The four wealthy South Americans have been arrested and federally charged for illegally acting as agents of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela within the United States. Federal prosecutors say that, on behalf of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, the men tried to intimidate another south Florida man caught with a suitcase full of U.S. dollars as he arrived in Argentina.
The $800,000 was sent by Chavez to help out the campaign of recently elected Argentine president Cristina Kirchner, the wife of the country’s previous president (Nestor Kirchner) and a strong ally of the Venezuelan leader and his Latin American socialist revolution. But customs officials discovered the cash at the Buenos Aires Airport and confiscated the suitcase.
The Venezuelan man delivering the money on a private jet is also a Miami-area resident and prosecutors say Chavez’ agents tried to intimidate him to keep quiet about the source of the money as well as its intended recipient. The agents coordinated and participated in a series of meetings in an effort to silence the busted cash courier.
The new President Kirchner, who is often compared to Hillary Clinton, has furiously denied any involvement in the fiasco and has dismissed her association with it as “U.S. garbage tactics.” Venezuela’s foreign minister accused the U.S. government of engaging in a psychological and media war against the progressive governments of the hemisphere.
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