Shockwaves from yesterday’s guilty verdict in the drug trafficking case against Cilia Flores’ nephews – Efrain and Francisco Flores – continued to spread through Venezuela today, as the “narco-nephews” now face the possibility of spending ten years to life in prison for their crime. The verdict also confirmed that the endemic corruption and widespread allegations of illicit drug activity plaguing the Venezuelan government reach all the way into Maduro’s own household.
Neither Maduro nor the Venezuelan government have offered any kind of statement on the conviction.
Miranda state governor and opposition leader Henrique Capriles reacted through his Twitter account, and accused Maduro of failing to “face the nation” and talk about the case, specially about the fact that Efrain and Francisco were carrying diplomatic passports when they were arrested by DEA agents in Haiti last November.
The diplomatic passports that Efrain and Francisco used to travel out of Venezuela on their drug trafficking mission were issued while Maduro was Foreign Affairs Minister.
Capriles also mocked the sorry state of the Venezuelan justice system, saying:
Are we going to see the [Venezuelan Supreme Court] release a ruling annulling the trial of these narcos and prohibiting anyone from talking about it? That’d be something!
Venezuelans on social media also reacted to the news by sharing images and comments on the case. The image below particular image made a particularly large slash on Instagram and Twitter:
The image below is a composite of two separate images. The background picture shows Francisco and Efrain in handcuffs shortly after their arrest in Haiti last November. The foreground image of Maduro dancing was taken from a recent clip of him dancing salsa during the launch of a radio show.
Maduro’s dance drew the scorn of Venezuelans who believe, given the chronic crisis plaguing the country, Maduro could spend his time doing things other than dancing for a radio show.
Roberto Weil, a political cartoonist, encapsulated the drama of the case with the image below:
National Assembly to Discuss Case
National Assembly opposition deputy Ismael Garcia announced today that the legislature would examine the Flores’ case this week, particularly given its connections to Cilia Flores.
During the trial, the jury heard audio evidence in which Francisco admitted that the reason he and Efrain were looking to smuggle cocaine into the United States was to raise money for their aunt’s National Assembly campaign.
At the time of the Flores’ arrest in November 2015, Cilia was in the home stretch of her campaign to become a National Assembly deputy. Cilia won in her Cojedes state district, and is now a sitting deputy in the national parliament.
On the Flores’ conviction and the link between the drug trade and Cilia Flores, deputy Garcia said:
What is happening here is extremely serious, because these men said [during their trial] that they had used that money to finance the Cilia Flores campaign.
Garcia said that the National Assembly would also take the extraordinary measure of removing Cilia Flores’ parliamentary immunity in order to expose her to potential judicial action. Garcia said:
We are going to ask the National Assembly to open up an investigation and remove Cilia Flores’ immunity over the narco-nephews case. We are also going to ask for an investigation over the origin of the diplomatic passports that the Flores’ had, [which were issued] while Nicolas [Maduro] was Foreign Affairs Minister.
Garcia also spoke on another shocking revelation that came to light during the trial: the fact that state-owned assets and even the presidential runway at the Maiquetia International Airport have been used to move drugs out of Venezuela. Garcia said:
How is it possible that, through their power [by virtue of being] the nephews of the presidential household, these men used airplanes, the presidential hangar, [and] airplanes to transport drugs?
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