Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma has now been in prison for 10 months over allegations that he conspired to commit unspecified crimes, presumably against the government. Ledezma was arrested on February 19 by SEBIN agents who raided his office in Caracas. Ledezma’s detention has been mired in controversy since the beginning, as the agents who arrested him did not have a warrant to do so.
Ledezma was initially sent to the Ramo Verde military prison pending the start of his trial, but a medical condition that required surgery saw him placed under house arrest in early May.
Since his detention, Ledezma’s preliminary hearing has been delayed at least eight times, meaning that he has not appeared before a judge since being formally charged on February 20.
The Public Ministry has not yet set a new date for the preliminary hearing, meaning that Ledezma is in a state of indefinite detention.
Venezuelan Executive with PDVSA Links Arrested in Houston
Roberto Rincon, a Venezuelan businessman living in Houston, Texas, was arrested in the city earlier today over allegations that he used his close connections to the state-owned PDVSA firm to launder money.
According to journalist Casto Ocando, Rincon owns two companies that provide equipment to PDVSA. Ocando reported through Twitter that Rincon laundered money through contracts awarded to his companies by PDVSA.
Rincon was arrested alongside two other unnamed individuals, and is set to appear before a federal judge at 10 AM Houston time.
PSUV Might Be Gearing Up to Challenge Election Results
Opposition National Assembly deputy Freddy Guevara addressed rumours that the PSUV might be preparing to challenge the results at at least some of the districts in the December 6 parliamentary elections, saying that such a move would constitute a “coup d’etat”.
Guevara was responding to recent allegations by PSUV officials, including Maduro, that the opposition cheated in the parliamentary elections through a complex yet currently unknown system of fraud that Maduro himself claims was called “Operation Fanny Pack”.
On the possibility of the challenge, Guevara said:
These challenges would constitute a coup d’etat. They don’t have an argument to make. What could they says? That we issued fraudulent I.D. cards? But who controls the administration of I.D.s? The government. Will they say that we tampered with the voting machines? Smartmatic buys them from the CNE [the National Electoral Council], and the CNE controls them.
Guevara also addressed the possibility that the government might argue that the opposition somehow had a role in the number of spoiled ballots that were cast on December 6. 6.96% of the votes cast on December 6 were spoiled. The PSUV might be looking at districts were the opposition candidate beat the PSUV candidate by a margin smaller than the spoiled ballots cast in that district.
The spoiled ballot argument is even crazier. There are more PSUV candidates who won by a smaller margin than the number of spoiled ballots cast that opposition candidates. If they make an argument through the spoiled ballots, they’ll end up losing more seats.
NYT Publishes Piece on Reverol Allegations
The New York Times published a piece today in which it outlines the complexities of the alleged forthcoming drug trafficking allegations against Nestor Reverol, the head of the National Guard.
According to the New York Times, the investigation into the drug trafficking activities of high-ranking Venezuelan officials including Reverol began when Colombian drug traffickers arrested in Colombia and extradited to the United States began speaking to authorities about the role Venezuelan officials and organizations had in the regional drug trade. As head of the National Guard, Reverol is alleged to have been paid by Colombian drug traffickers to hinder investigations into their activities and tip them off to imminent raids on their operations.
The same article claims that in recent years Venezuelan individuals have risen up to form their own drug trafficking organizations to rival the more famous and established Colombian groups. As a result, Venezuela has become “a global hub for drugs, principally cocaine, destined for the United States”, the New York Times claims.
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