Venezuela: Maduro on the edge of the sword?

Why did the National Assembly approve continuing the judicial process against Nicolás Maduro for alleged links to Odebrecht?

Venezuela: Maduro on the edge of the sword?

The National Assembly (AN), decided to move forward in the process of trial against President Nicolás Maduro, accepting the complaint of the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), according to which President Nicolás Maduro would be implicated in alleged acts of corruption related to the multinational Brazilian Odebrecht. The decision was born following the request of the ex-prosecutor, Luisa Ortega Díaz, who presented forceful evidence before the TSJ, where acts of corruption and legitimation of capital are evidenced, where Maduro and other members of the national government would also be implicated.

Leer en español: Venezuela: ¿Maduro al filo de la espada?

In the complaint, Ortega also asked the Supreme Court to issue an international red alert against Maduro to Interpol, in addition to the freezing of their bank accounts. Once the procedures were completed, the petition was raised before the AN, who must continue with the procedures to determine the legal status of the Venezuelan executive. It is noteworthy that, after voting on the proposal to continue the trial against the Venezuelan president, the participation in the Chamber was supported by 105 votes in favor and only two against.

As soon as this decision was announced by the AN, the ex-prosecutor said in her twitter account that: "The Public Ministry in my charge, the Supreme Court of Justice and the National Assembly, we have fulfilled our historical duty. It is now the responsibility of the National Armed Forces (FAN) to comply with this decision and proceed to the capture of the up to now Constitutional President of Venezuela".

On the other hand, from the top leadership of the Venezuelan Government, the current Attorney General of the Republic, Tarek William Saab, cataloged as an act "bufo" and "illegal" to proceed with the request of the preliminary hearing of merit to the government of Nicolás Maduro, taking in account that the entities that would be carrying out the procedure are "illegitimate" before the national Government.

Among the specific accusations made by the ex-prosecutor before the TSJ, Ortega said that the Brazilian company paid a sum of USD 98 million to Venezuelan officials and exposed irregularities in the construction of a bridge over Lake Maracaibo by Odebrecht. Ortega said that from the national executive the amount of USD 407 million was paid for "some construction projects where there is no clarity".

It should be noted that this fact is more relevant due to the number of complaints against the Venezuelan leader, who also has in his cases before the International Criminal Court: crimes against humanity or war crimes that have been committed since the 1st of July of 2002. In addition, the request of 107 parliamentarians from Peru against Nicolás Maduro, Néstor Reverol Minister of the Interior, Justice and Peace of Venezuela and the member of the Constituent National Assembly Diosdado Cabello for genocide was made public, raising the demand before the ICC.

To take into consideration, the complaint made by Ortega Díaz was introduced in the month of February, where she also requested a preliminary hearing of merit, to investigate the crimes of corruption and legitimization of capital. However, President Maduro did not attend the call, where he was summoned to testify before the Supreme Court on April 3.

Will the call be answered?

Although the National Assembly was elected by popular clamor with a voting process, its functions were limited almost entirely to the creation, arbitrarily, of the National Constituent Assembly. This situation removes even more validity the position of the Supreme Court of Justice, whose magistrates were appointed by the AN.

Understanding this situation, the first juncture to be overcome will be the recognition of the TSJ by other countries. It should be remembered that, due to their condition, the judges that make up this body were sworn in on October 13 of last year at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, USA, and formed the court in exile.

This implies that many of the countries of the Alba have not given recognition or much less validity to this TSJ. Added to this, it is a situation that could mark a unique historical precedent taking into account the diplomatic precaution that could exist through this case, the biggest question will be if there will be a guarantee from other countries to this decision.

Salvatore Lucchese, lawyer and politician, highlights an important factor in this case: "although there is a designated TSJ by the AN, its condition in exile weakens it and even more so when within the Venezuelan territory, there is a Supreme Court designated by the national government, which makes it almost impossible for national forces to capture Maduro". Another aspect highlighted is the current condition of Nicolás Maduro as president of Venezuela, which makes it very difficult for Interpol to decide to enter the territory to capture a functioning president.

Finally, the decision of the FANB in ​​relation to this case remains to be determined, because, despite the call by the ex-prosecutor, the TSJ and the AN, it is very complicated that the Venezuelan president's decision to capture from the heart of this institution, where, in addition, continuous support has been ratified for the national executive, as a review of the background would indicate.

The truth of the case is that in the course of the next few days the decisions and positions taken by both national and international bodies before this issue that puts Maduro on the edge of the sword will be determine, on the eve of an electoral process that was strongly criticized and even unknown in the framework of the VIII Summit of the Americas.


Latin American Post | Julio Abella

Translated from "Venezuela: ¿Maduro al filo de la espada?"


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