How Did We Miss This?

We’ll head Down The Rabbit Hole in a few but first… Havana Times had a piece that made me think “How did we miss this?” The president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Jorge Rodriguez, warned ( before the recent international summit in Bogota on the Venezuela crisis) that one of the requirements (note the word “one”) for resuming the dialog with the opposition was the following : “The ‘lawfare’ (or legal war) policies, the policies of attack ventured in the US courts, or through the International Criminal Court (ICC), must be stopped because they directly affect our most important leaders.”

 In short, Chavismo demands impunity for corruption and crimes against humanity in order to continue negotiating fair electoral conditions, lifting sanctions, and releasing political prisoners.

 They (Maduro) seem emboldened by their successes in achieving some sanctions-easing from the Biden administration for oil exports to the US (and Europe with the questionable deals with Eni, from Italy, and Repsol, from Spain), the release of the “narco- nephews” (nephews of First Lady Cilia Flores) from prison on drug charges, to the elimination from the OFAC (US Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control)  list of another nephew of Flores who was accused of money laundering. It’s a little different with the ICC process, which has been predictably slow and relatively quiet recently but is moving forward.

 Remember, the list of those under investigation by the ICC for Human Rights violations and possible crimes against Humanity includes many high-ranking Chavistas, members of the military, and even Maduro himself and there are no statutes of limitations on these crimes.

 Tha Chavistas (Maduro) are also “feeling their oats”, if you will, with the recent election of leftist leaders in Latin America and various governments recognizing ambassadors from the Maduro regime, including Spain.

 So where are we now with this band of thieves and murderers (the Chavistas)? Their list of demands just to talk to the Venezuela opposition about holding free and fair elections (which will never happen with Chavismo, and Maduro’s 5% approval rating) as well as other issues (Human Rights violations, crimes against humanity, etc.) now includes lifting of all sanctions against Venezuela and Venezuela government officials, cessation of all legal proceeding against Venezuela government and government officials including the ICC investigation, the release of Alex Saab, the architect of Maduro’s utterly fraudulent and utterly failed CLAP government food program and other schemes, currently detained in the US awaiting trial on money laundering charges, the UN-managed humanitarian fund of $3.2 billion in potentially unfrozen assets must be operational, and we still have that Boeing 747 cargo plane sitting down in Argentina that they have demanded be returned.

 It’s time the Chavistas got slapped back down a bit (or a lot). It’s been about six months since the Biden administration agreed to allow Chevron to export Venezuela crude to the US contingent on a six month review to confirm they had taken “concrete steps” toward the restoration of democracy in Venezuela. The Chavistas, as expected, have done nothing.

 The operational and export license issued to Chevron and it;s joint ventures with PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company) should be suspended, according to the terms of the agreement.

 The UNHRC-FFM (United Nations Human Rights Council Fact Finding Mission) has submitted three consecutive annual reports on Human Rights violations in Venezuela and each time the Maduro regime has pledged to address the situation. The Chavistas, as expected, have done nothing.

 The entire international community should publicly support the advancement of the ICC investigation and pledge to provide the ICC with whatever resources it needs to bring the investigation to a timely conclusion. Then, if as expected, the Chavistas are found culpable, of Human Rights violations and crimes against humanity, they need to be held accountable in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, where they would all, most assuredly, be convicted and jailed.

 Now lets go Down The Rabbit Hole…

 Chapter 12 continued…

 …Although the TSJ made numerous questionable rulings during the Chavez years not much was said due to the overwhelming Chavista majority in the National Assembly. When Maduro took over the reins of Chavismo following the death of Hugo Chavez things would begin to change. There would be no pretense or subterfuge. The gloves would come off. To understand the TSJ under Maduro it’s necessary to take a good look at his President of the Court (similar to the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court), Maikel Moreno.

 Moreno was convicted of murder in Bolivar state in 1987 while a member of DISIP, Venezuela’s political police. It’s not clear if he ever actually served jail time. In 1989 he was involved in the murder of Ruben Gil Martinez and has been linked to the death of attorney Danilo Anderson.

 In 2004 , in a recorded conversation, he pressured Caracas judge, Luis Melendez, to release Saul Cordero, being held on arms and drug trafficking charges. Cordero was never officially charged, was released, and was later named Police Chief in the municipality of Caroni by the pro- Chavista mayor. He also worked in the early Chavez years as both attorney and judge on the same case with two different suspects. I guess when you are morally and ethically bankrupt you can’t have a conflict of interest.

 In 2007 Moreno improperly released two murder suspects. He was also implicated in extortion rings and drug trafficking in an investigation ordered by Chavez. When he was defrocked he said he wasn’t worried, his good friends Cilia (Maduro’s wife) and Nico (Nicolas Maduro) would take care of him…and so they did.

 In 2007, in his capacity as Foreign Minister, Maduro gave Moreno diplomatic posts in Italy and Trinidad & Tobago. Moreno also spent a lot of time in The Dominican Republic and Miami. When Chavez died in 2013 Maduro recalled Maikel Moreno back to Venezuela and nominated him to serve on the TSJ. Two years later Maduro named him President of TSJ. Chavez’s 1999 Constitution states that the head of TSJ is “to be of good repute”. This must be one of those “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” kinda’ deals. “Good repute” must be in the eye of the former Marxist bus driver. In the two years leading up to his appointment as President of TSJ, Moreno established a reputation for ruling on cases rejected by both attorneys and judges. It is also widely known that he has ties to corrupt billionaire, Raul Gorin, who is facing money laundering charges. Sounds like “good repute” to me. Regarding Moreno, former judge, Luis Velasquez, said “The greatest affront to the people is to put a criminal in charge of the justice system.”

 More tomorrow….

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