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Flight ban to Aruba lifted

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By The Associated Press
Saturday, July 26, 2014, 6:09 p.m.

ORANJESTAD, Aruba — Three airlines serving major Venezuelan cities resumed flights to and from Aruba on Saturday, ending a brief suspension by the socialist dictatorship to protest the arrest of its designated consul to the island territory, the highest-ranking Caracas official ever detained on a U.S. warrant.

The lifting of the ban followed several hours of talks between Aruba Justice Minister Arthur Dowers and a representative of Venezuela's foreign affairs ministry, Dowers said.

The suspension of flights to and from Aruba and other Dutch Caribbean territories began on Friday afternoon when an Aruban judge ruled that Hugo Carvajal, the former head of Venezuelan military intelligence, must remain behind bars pending a U.S. extradition request on drug-trafficking charges.

The flight ban, which stranded about 500 travelers on the island, was considered an economic blow to Aruba.

Carvajal was arrested on Thursday as he arrived in Aruba. Venezuela protested the detention, citing diplomatic immunity.

Carvajal's surprise arrest has cast a spotlight on what's known in Venezuela as the “Cartel of the Suns,” referring to rogue, high-ranking military officers believed to have grown rich from drug-running. Top Venezuelan officers wear sun insignia on their uniforms.

President Nicolas Maduro had threatened to retaliate against Aruba, unless Carvajal is freed.

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