Those who are in custody often have only one currency left: information.

You can decide on the severity of the sentence.

Two people have recently come into the hands of the American judiciary and they are particularly so.

A few days ago, the Spanish authorities extradited the former Venezuelan intelligence chief Hugo Carvajal to the United States.

A few days earlier, Cape Verde had done the same with the Colombian businessman Alex Saab, one of the most important front men in the Venezuelan leadership around President Nicolás Maduro.

Tjerk Brühwiller

Correspondent for Latin America based in São Paulo.

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Both have information that Washington has a keen interest in.

Carvajal was already considered a central figure under the former President Hugo Chávez.

As head of counter-espionage, one of his tasks was to identify possible traitors in the innermost circles of power and especially in the army.

Carvajal himself later fell out of favor.

When he publicly turned away from ruler Maduro, he had to leave the country and went into hiding in Spain.

He has always stood up to trial to prevent charges of drug trafficking and alleged collaboration with the Colombian FARC guerrillas in the United States.

Now that his fears from the extradition are even more specific, he should come out with more information.

Did Venezuela fund Podemos and Five Stars?

Carvajal has already given a foretaste of this.

In a document that he handed over to the judiciary, the former head of the secret service describes how the long financially solvent Venezuelan government is said to have secretly financed political allies in Latin America and later also in Europe, for example the Spanish Podemos party or the Italian five-star Move.

The "money messengers" of the foreign ministry, which at that time was still headed by Maduro, are said to have transported millions of dollars in cash in suitcases to the respective countries.

Such stories cause a stir whether they are true or not. What interests Washington much more, however, are other details from Carvajal's body of knowledge. The former head of the secret service had his eyes everywhere, especially in the army. He knows the officers who rose within the power apparatus, who now occupy top positions in the army and who keep Maduro in power. And he also knows their darkest secrets, their violations and private deals, which in some cases are said to extend to involvement in drug trafficking. If Washington wants to focus its sanctions against Venezuela more on individuals, this information is of great value.

The Colombian businessman Alex Saab has also been doing business with the Venezuelan government since the Chavez era.

During this time he handled several government contracts worth billions, including the import of food for the largest state social program.

During this time, Saab has not only learned how to bypass sanctions, but also how to divert, hide and wash money in the gray area.

He knows the names, the businesses, the routes and the bank accounts that enable the Venezuelan management team to stay afloat despite the sanctions.

Look out, we have your wife

The American authorities suspect that he also knows where Maduro and the innermost circles of power in Caracas are hiding their money. Cyprus, China or Hong Kong are some of the guesses. Saab is also a central figure in Venezuela's relations with Iran and Turkey and should also be very well informed about Russian and Chinese activities in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan government's response to the extradition of Saab to the United States reveals a lot about its importance.

Caracas immediately interrupted the ongoing talks with the Venezuelan opposition in order to find a way out of the political crisis.

In addition, several American executives from Citgo, an American subsidiary of the state oil company PDVSA, were brought back from house arrest to prison in order to put Washington under pressure.

Caracas had previously tried everything to prevent extradition.

Saab was given diplomatic status.

While he was already imprisoned in Cape Verde, the government promoted him to special envoy for Russia and Iran and listed him among the representatives of the talks with the opposition.

It is questionable whether Saab will say as soon and as much as Washington would like after its delivery.

Not only does he have a lot to gain by cooperating with the Americans, he also has a lot to lose.

After Saab's extradition, his wife read an alleged letter from her husband on Venezuelan state television.

Many doubt whether the letter actually came from Saab.

The appearance of Saab's wife could just as well have been a message from the regime to himself: Be careful what you say, we have your wife.

Venezuelans know how Maduro suppresses the opposition.

However, he deals even harder with those who betray him.

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