Former attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz and her husband, former National Assembly (PSUV) deputy German Ferrer, escaped Venezuela yesterday via a boat to Aruba and are currently in Colombia. Ortega Diaz, who acted as the country’s top law enforcer for ten years, claims to have taken documents linking high-raking PSUV officials–including Maduro himself–in criminal activities.
The couple’s escape is the latest development in a saga that began earlier this year when Ortega Diaz broke away from the PSUV and began to publicly denounce Maduro’s increasingly authoritarian rule. Since then, the regime has been relentless in its attacks against Ortega Diaz, going as far as removing her from her position earlier this month.
Ferrer, who abandoned the PSUV at the national legislature earlier this month, became the target of an arrest warrant yesterday after regime officials claimed that he was part of a criminal organization that also involved his wife.
News of the couple’s escape first broke through Univision, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the developments as saying that Ortega Diaz and Ferrer took a boat from Venezuela to Aruba yesterday, where they then boarded a private airplane bound for Bogota, Colombia. The pair arrived in Colombia at approximately 3:30 PM local time.
Univision claims that the couple left on a “speed boat” from the Paraguana peninsula, which is approximately 30 kilometers away from Aruba.
The Colombian government confirmed late in the evening that Ortega Diaz and her party were in fact inside the country. Migration Colombia also revealed that the party had filed “their corresponding migration papers with Colombian authorities”.
Ortega Diaz Accuses Maduro of Corruption, Claims to Have Evidence
Univision also reported that accompanying Ortega Diaz and her husband were her chief of staff, Gioconda del Carmen Gonzalez Sanchez, and Arturo Vilar Esteves, a prosecutor with the Public Ministry who specializes in corruption.
The fact that Esteves escaped alongside his former boss is telling, since Ortega Diaz claims to have brought with her evidence that Maduro was personally involved in the Odebrecht corruption scandal.
Speaking via telephone from Colombia to a meeting of Latin American prosecutors, Ortega Diaz said that the regime’s recent attacks on her office and the Public Ministry are related to the work that the institution was conducting on the Odebrecht corruption case, in which high-ranking Venezuelan officials are allegedly involved. Ortega Diaz said:
74 national prosecutors specializing in corruption were banned from leaving the country without any kind of due process–in other words, on a whim from the government. All of that has to do with the Odebrecht investigation, which is the biggest case of corruption in the region, and that has them [the Maduro regime] really worried.
Ortega Diaz then told the meeting that she has evidence personally linking Maduro and other high-ranking regime officials to the corruption scandal:
They [the Maduro regime] are worried because they know that we have information and details about all of the operations, amounts, and individuals who enriched themselves [through the corruption], and that this investigation involves Mr. Nicolas Maduro those around him.
This is not the first time that Maduro has been personally linked to the Odebrecht corruption case. Back in May, one of the defendants in the case testified as part of a plea deal with the Brazilian courts that Maduro personally handed her $11 million in dirty money for Hugo Chavez’s re-election campaign in 2012.
Guevara: National Assembly Facing Military Dictatorship
National Assembly vice president Freddy Guevara held a press conference today with national and international media outlets in which he stressed the parliament’s position in light of the Constituent Assembly’s move yesterday to usurp the powers of the National Assembly.
Guevara told reporters that the National Assembly would remain as a site of resistance against the Maduro dictatorship:
… We will remain here in rejection of this dissolution decree (…) this is a parliament of resistance that is facing an armed military dictatorship. The nature of this regime is dictatorial, violent and torturous.
Guevara also explained that by taking over the powers of the National Assembly, the Constituent Assembly is attempting to secure cash flow for the regime. This is because international bodies like banking institutions and foreign governments are unlikely to engage in translations with organizations other than those that are officially and legally entitled to conduct such business. In Venezuela, this organization is the National Assembly, which according to the constitution has the sole power to negotiate financial deals and locate funding for the country.
During a meeting of the National Assembly today, Guevara tore up the Constituent Assembly’s decree from yesterday in a show of defiance:
Guevara: … in light of those fraudulent decisions from the false Constituent [Assembly], as well as [unintelligible] when we decided to reject decisions 155 and 156 from the Supreme Court.
[Tears up decree]
Jet Crash Kills Former Cabinet Minister’s Son
A small passenger jet crashed off the coast of Venezuela early this morning after takeoff, killing all five individuals on board.
The names of the five deceased are:
- Nelson Bejarano
- Joan Marrero
- Miguel Perez
- Luis Picardi
- Juvencio Carvajal
National media reports that one of the individuals who perished in the crash is the son of former cabinet minister Miguel Perez Abad. While the individual’s name has yet to be released, the former minister’s son is likely to be Miguel Perez.
Miguel Perez Abad has held a number of high profile titles in the government, including Minister of Industry and Commerce from January to August of last year.
Questions/Comments? E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep in touch on Facebook! In Venezuela Blog