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Unasur embarrassment: Suriname president’s son arrested by US on drug and arms trafficking

Saturday, August 31st 2013 - 18:03 UTC
Full article 30 comments
President Desi Bouterse and son Dino, head of the country’s anti-terrorist unit (Pic Reuter) President Desi Bouterse and son Dino, head of the country’s anti-terrorist unit (Pic Reuter)
Bouterse hosting the Unasur summit in Paramaribo where he was given the chair of the group for the next 12 months Bouterse hosting the Unasur summit in Paramaribo where he was given the chair of the group for the next 12 months

Suriname opposition legislators have called on President Desi Bouterse to resign as well as to clarify the circumstances surrounding the arrest of his son by United States law enforcement authorities in Panama earlier this week.

Members of the main opposition Niewuw Front (NF) wrote to Bouterse asking him to “disclose what Dino Bouterse was doing abroad and why he was travelling on a diplomatic passport” when he was arrested. Opposition legislator Asiskoemar Gajadien has also called for President Bouterse’s resignation.

“In any normal democracy the president would step down over such a serious issue”, Gajadien told reporters, adding that the arrest is an embarrassment to Suriname given the fact that it has now assumed the chairmanship of the Union for South American Nations, UNASUR.

Bouterse who previously led the former Dutch colony under a military dictatorship, admitted the arrest at the summit for regional leaders being held in Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname. Since becoming independent Suriname has become increasingly linked to Brazil which was very much concerned about drug and arms trafficking to Brazilian gangs.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Friday confirmed Dino Bouterse’s arrest but that the reason for his detention remained unclear.

“He has been arrested and handed to American Justice Authorities. The cause for his arrest remains unclear,” the Ministry said in a statement, adding it was “following developments closely”.

In a “Security Notice” released Friday, the United States Embassy here confirmed that “agents from the Department of Justice have arrested the President’s son Dino Bouterse on August 29th. Key Surinamese officials have been notified and though we have not received any negative responses from Government, this is undoubtedly a personal issue for the president”

The “Security Notice” said that while no retaliation was expected, staff members should remain vigilant. “Please report any suspicious activities or any harassment, including from any host country officials,” it added.

Panamanian authorities say Bouterse was arrested on an international warrant issued by the United States for drug and weapons trafficking, crimes he reportedly committed in the state of Florida.

Bouterse, 40, who was travelling on a diplomatic passport, had been indicted for trafficking 10 kilos of cocaine last July.

This isn’t Bouterse’s first brush with the law regarding the illegal arms trade. In 2005 he was convicted in a Surinamese court and sentenced to eight years in jail on drugs and arms trafficking charges but was released in 2008 due to good behaviour.

His links with the illegal arms trade had also caught the attention of the US government several years ago. In a Wikileaked cable from then US Ambassador to Guyana, Roland Bullen, he had noted that “Desi Bouterse’s son, Dino, organised a Surinamese soccer team’s trip to Buxton a few years ago. It is believed that the team bus carried weapons to Buxton.”

For many years Buxton had the reputation of being a safe haven for heavily armed gangs in neighbouring Guyana. Shortly after the Bouterse-administration came into office in August 2010, the government established the Counter Terror Unit in which Dino Bouterse allegedly had a prominent position.

Top Comments

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  • golfcronie

    Must be a Latam thing

    Sep 01st, 2013 - 05:46 am 0
  • ManRod

    I was wondering a couple of weeks ago, why Suriname's president jumped on the Mercosur train. Now everything's clear. They fit quite well.

    Golfcronie, not a very clever sentence. Could say same about all Europeans regarding your history of dictators like Hitler, Stalin, Franco, Mussolini, etc... must be a Europe thing.

    Whatch out with your generalisations.

    Sep 01st, 2013 - 10:40 am 0
  • ChrisR

    2 ManRod

    Do you really want to get into a pissing contest about the “LatAm thing”?

    I live in Uruguay, read all the SA papers that I can and of course the country is next to Argentina. A bunch of wanabe gangsters is driving that country into liquidation while lining their own pockets. And to think that this all started with Peron, a fascist who was an understudy to Mussolini (you missed that one of course).

    At the other next door we have Brasil, the president of which is an ex (hopefully) terrorist, surrounded by acknowledged masters in corruption of sovereign monies. Murders and mayhem in the favelas carry on uninterrupted by the police who are more corrupt than the drug dealers.

    Correas father was a drug dealer who died in an American prison for it while the president claims drug dealing is not illegal.

    The Cow Pat running Bolivia was a coca leaf farmer and imbiber, now he is doing everything he can to emulate TMBOA by reducing the press, etc. as well as running for an extra, extra term and altering laws so as to implicate the opposition to him in any crime you care to name.

    Venezuela: what can anybody NOT say happens in the oil rich but broke country? Second on homicides in the world is it, I can’t even be bothered to check how many extra-judicial murders there were under Chavez.

    Colombia: how many in fighting drug cartels are there? Does anyone know or anybody care?

    And now Suriname, and they made this gangster part of the Counter Terror Unit (allegedly), well, might as well keep it in the family.

    And that was just 10 minutes of my time.

    But, if you are happy to align yourself with this bunch that’s up to you.

    Sep 01st, 2013 - 03:45 pm 0
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