Former attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz was at The Hague this today, where she submitted paperwork at the International Criminal Court (ICC) seeking for the organization to formally charge and prosecute Maduro under the Rome Statute, potentially for crimes against humanity.
Specifically, Ortega Diaz’s visit to the ICC had to do with the case of Oscar Perez, the renegade police officer who was killed on January 15 alongside six of his companions during a raid on his safe house in El Junquito, on Caracas’ western edge. According to Ortega Diaz, she has evidence that Perez and his companions were executed by regime forces after they no longer posed a threat. She said:
We’ve managed to bring evidence [to the ICC] that the people who were massacred had surrendered, and their surrender had already been negotiated, but an order from Nicolas Maduro came at the last minute saying to annihilate them.
Ortega Diaz did not provide details on what this piece of evidence might be. However, she characterized the events in El Junquito on that day in the following way:
They were murdered. Seven Venezuelans were massacred, Oscar Perez among them. This was a military operation planned and directed by Nicolas Maduro.
At the same time, the former attorney general said that it was clear that the January 15 raid that saw Perez and his companions killed is clear evidence that the regime’s campaign of human rights violations continues to this day.
On February 8 of this year, the ICC announced that it had begun a preliminary examination into allegations that Maduro regime officials committed crimes against humanity during the repression of anti-government protests last year. The preliminary examination is not an official investigation: rather, depending on what the ICC determines in this stage, it could choose to proceed with laying charges against regime officials under the Rome Statue for any of the crimes in its jurisdiction, which include crimes against humanity and war crimes.
El Aissami asks for Arrest Warrant Against Ortega Diaz
Vice President Tarek El Aissami spoke today at the Constituent Assembly on a number of issues, among them Ortega Diaz’s life in exile. El Aissami took the opportunity to announced that he was formally requesting the Public Ministry to issue an arrest warrant for Ortega Diaz, after he alleged that she was responsible for the deaths of protesters last year. El Aissami said:
I will ask the Public Ministry [to issue] an international capture order [sic] against this outlaw, so that she may answer for the horrible deaths that were caused by her actions alongside the Venezuelan right wing in the failed coup d’etat last year.
The Maduro regime maintains that any expression of dissent, particularly street protests–however peaceful–constitute a direct attack on the government and are tantamount to a coup d’etat.
137 people were killed in last year’s anti-government protests, many of them by the authorities and pro-regime militias.
During the same address, El Aissami thanked the National Guard for their work to “defend peace and sovereignty” in their repression of the 2017 protests.
National Guard soldiers killed at least 16 protesters during last year’s unrest.
OAS Head Calls Henri Falcon A Pawn
Luis Almagro, the head of the Organization of American States (OAS), spoke today at an event in Madrid on the Venezuelan crisis. Almagro–who is arguably the most vocal regime critic outside of Venezuela–weighed in on the upcoming May 20 election, and in particular the fact that only one high-profile opposition figure decided to run against Maduro: Henri Falcon.
For Almagro, Falcon’s candidacy is happening only because he was allowed to run by the regime, which in his view makes him a pawn. Almagro explained:
We all knew that Henri Falcon was going to be an instrument of the Bolivarian government to divide the opposition, and his candidacy has proven this.
Falcon was a loyal chavista until 2010, when he resigned from the ruling PSUV party and began to publicly distance himself from its ideologies. For many years, Falcon was considered by many commentators to be a chavista-light: that is, an individual whose ideologies closely resembled those of chavismo. Since his departure from the PSUV, Falcon has fought an uphill battle to be accepted by opposition circles.
Almagro was joined at the same event by Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, who said that Venezuela and Cuba were “embers” from the era when “Latin America was a succession of military dictatorships”. Vargas Llosa also had harsh words for the May 20 election, saying:
The way forward is not the elections that the regime has called for. That electoral process is a fraud.
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