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Published On: Wed, Aug 23rd, 2017

Colombia offers asylum to ousted Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega

nsnbc : Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos, on Monday, offered asylum to Venezuela’s ousted Attorney General Luisa Ortega who arrived in Colombia last week. Meanwhile, the Venezuelan government described Ortega as a fugitive. Ortega is scheduled to travel to Brazil to testify about Venezuelan government official’s role in the Odebrecht corruption scandal.

Attorney General Ortega - Being outspoken and upholding the Constitution now criminal?

Attorney General Ortega – Being outspoken and upholding the Constitution now criminal?

President Juan Manuel Santos, on Monday, used his Twitter account to publicly state that Luisa Ortega and her husband, who arrived in Colombia on Friday last week, is being protected by Colombian authorities and that they would be granted asylum if they decided to apply for it.

Ortega and her husmand German Ferrer left Venezuela after Venezuelan authorities ordered Ferrer arrested for allegedly running an extortion ring out of the office of the Attorney General.

Ortega was once a strong supporter of Venezuela’s socialist PSUV and the administration of President Nicolas Maduro. She broke with the PSUV administration after the Supreme Court suspended the legislative branch of government (National Assembly) where the Roundtable of Democratic Unity held an absolute majority. The rift widened even further when the PSUV administration moved to rewrite the Constitution adopted under the late Hugo Chavez in 1999.

Ortega, when confronted with accusations about her husband, immediately claimed she would be able to present evidence that implicated Maduro, rather than her husband, in extortion and corruption.

Maduro, in turn claimed Ortega had been hiding behind a ‘Chavista mask,’ pledging allegiance to the socialist government installed by the late President Hugo Chavez while working with Washington to damage his administration. ‘Tell me who you walk with and I will tell you who you are,’ Maduro, who is becoming increasingly paranoid (or rhetorical) about “traitors everywhere”, told reporters, ‘You keep company with the Colombian oligarchy, Luisa Marvelia,’ he added, invoking her middle name. ‘You keep the company of the coup-mongering Brazilians, Luisa Marvelia.’

Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht is at the center of a corruption scandal spanning 12 countries. (Reuters/Rodrigo Paiva)

Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht is at the center of a corruption scandal spanning 12 countries. (Reuters/Rodrigo Paiva)

Maduro’s declaration came shortly after Ortega announced that she was traveling to Brazil to participate in a meeting of the Mercosur group at which she plans to present incriminating evidence against Venezuela’s president. The South American trade bloc suspended Venezuela in early August for failing to uphold democratic norms. Ortega did not present any details, but on Friday she told a group of Latin American prosecutors that Maduro removed her in order to halt a probe linking him and his inner circle to nearly $100 million in bribes from the huge Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

The company last year admitted in a plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to paying bribes to officials throughout Latin America in exchange for lucrative contracts. ‘This event will allow me to show the world the proof that incriminates Nicolas Maduro and his associates in grave acts of corruption,’ she said in a statement released to the Venezuelan opposition news site La Patilla.

Maduro said Tuesday that he was alerting international police organizations that Ortega and Ferrer were both fugitives from justice. The couple went into hiding after state security forces raided their home last week. Maduro said authorities found vast ‘riches’ inside that he called ‘an incredible thing.’ ‘I never imagined such a betrayal as this,’ he said. Ortega and Ferrer arrived in Colombia on Friday aboard a private plane from Aruba, adding to a growing list of dissident lawmakers and officials who have fled Venezuela in recent months.

Chile announced Tuesday that it would grant political asylum to five Venezuelans who have been threatened by the PSUV-stacked Supreme Court after being named to the court by the opposition-controlled congress. The judges were among 33 appointed by the National Assembly in late July to replace current Supreme Court magistrates. The high court accused them of illegally usurping power and warned they would face consequences. At least one magistrate was jailed after participating in a ceremony announcing the new appointments.

CH/L – nsnbc 23.08.2017

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