Following Tuesday’s stunning Tribunal Supremo de Justicia [TSJ] decision on the national budget-approval process, Maduro approved Venezuela’s 2017 budget today by decree without presenting it to the National Assembly at all.
By doing so, Maduro became the first Venezuelan leader to pass a budget without consulting the National Assembly in 150 years. In an article published today, The Miami Herald points out that since 1861, every single Venezuelan president and dictator has presented the yearly budget before the national congress.
The Constitution very clearly states in a number of articles that the yearly budget must be presented to and approved by the National Assembly. With today’s measure, Maduro has placed Venezuela’s already troubled finances in uncharted territory, as any future democratic government will be left to deal with the consequences of what is by legal and constitutional standards an illegal budget.
Francisco Flores Held in Solitary Confinement for 48 Hours
Francisco Flores – one of the co-accused in the drug trafficking case involving Cilia Flores’ nephews – was released from solitary confinement earlier this morning. New York prison authorities cited unspecified “safety measures” when they isolated Francisco from the rest of the prison population on Wednesday.
Francisco’s re-integration into the general population follows a move by his defense team yesterday, which argued that placing him in solitary confinement under “deplorable” conditions was unacceptable.
A journalist named Jessica Carrillo who is covering the case tweeted a picture of a letter from U.S. District Attorney Preet Bharara – who is in charge of the prosecution on the case – informing the trial judge that Francisco had been removed from solitary confinement at “approximately 8:30 AM this morning”.
New Details Emerge on 18 Subpoena Venezuelan Citizens
On Tuesday, El Nuevo Herald reported that 18 Venezuelan citizens had been subpoenaed to testify in the trial against Francisco and Efrain Flores. While the identifies of the 18 individuals remains unknown, a source told that newspaper that some of them are “immediate relatives” of both Maduro and his wife, Cilia Flores.
Today, new details emerged on some of the subpoenaed individuals. El Nacional reports that according to information revealed in court proceedings today, three of the 18 individuals own properties in the United States. This fact lends some credence to El Nuevo Herald’s “immediate relatives” story, since only relatively wealthy individuals – such as those closely connected to the government – would be likely to own property in the U.S.
El Nacional also reports that the trial judge ordered the prosecution to deliver the subpoenas in person rather than through e-mail, which is how the subpoenas were sent out on Monday.
PSUV Deputy Gets Violent in National Assembly
PSUV National Assembly deputy Hugbel Roa threw his microphone in anger at opposition deputy Marco Bozzo during yesterday’s parliamentary session. Roa was speaking on the appointment of Monseigneur Baltazar Porras to the position of Cardinal the Vatican at the time of his outburst.
Roa was speaking out against the appointment when he lost is temper and threw the microphone at Bozzo. It appears that Bozzo was replying to Roa’s comments as he was making them.
Below, a video of the event along with my translation:
Roa: … when he [Porras?] conducted meetings with high-level government officials where he accused the other Cardinal, [saying] that he should not be chosen because he was a homosexual. That’s the same man [Porras?] with whom you [the opposition] are agreeing with right now. [To Bozzo:] Shut up! Shut up! [Roa throws microphone and appears to mouth “mamaguevo” (cocksucker)].
Roa’s violent outburst resulted in his loss of speaking privileges for one month.
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