Venezuela pros­e­cu­tor faces court, bat­tles gov­ern­ment

Ortega ‘pun­ished’ for chal­leng­ing Maduro

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Venezuela’s chief pros­e­cu­tor faced a court hear­ing yes­ter­day over al­leged mis­con­duct in what her al­lies say is pun­ish­ment for chal­leng­ing the gov­ern­ment over the coun­try’s deadly po­lit­i­cal cri­sis. Luisa Ortega, 59, is the most se­nior fig­ure to defy Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro as he fends off op­po­si­tion ef­forts to re­move him from power in the volatile oil­ex­port­ing na­tion. Her stand has raised the prospect of a split in the gov­ern­ment camp that could tip the bal­ance in a power strug­gle. Maduro is un­der mount­ing pres­sure af­ter three months of un­rest that pros­e­cu­tors say have left 89 peo­ple dead.

A lit­tle re­spect

Ortega launched a le­gal chal­lenge against the gov­ern­ment on hu­man rights grounds and a case against Supreme Court judges. Pro-gov­ern­ment law­maker Pe­dro Car­reno re­sponded by fil­ing charges against Ortega al­leg­ing “se­ri­ous er­rors in the car­ry­ing-out of her func­tions.” He also al­leged she was suf­fer­ing from “in­san­ity” and should be fired. The Supreme Court last week or­dered her as­sets to be frozen and banned her from leav­ing the coun­try. Yes­ter­day it ex­am­ined Car­reno’s charges to de­cide whether Ortega should face trial. Au­thor­i­ties searched Ortega’s of­fices on Mon­day in what state comptroller Manuel Galindo called a “fis­cal au­dit.” Ortega com­plained that of­fi­cials had burst into her of­fices like a “riot.” She in­sisted she would co­op­er­ate with an au­dit as long as they showed “re­spect.”

Dark­ness and an­ar­chy

Ortega was a tra­di­tional sup­porter of the “chav­ista” so­cial­ist move­ment launched by Maduro’s late pre­de­ces­sor Hugo Chavez, but broke ranks with the cur­rent pres­i­dent in March. She ac­cused the Supreme Court of un­der­min­ing democ­racy through a short-lived rul­ing that seized power from the op­po­si­tion­led leg­is­la­ture. The op­po­si­tion says the court is packed with Maduro’s al­lies. That court rul­ing was one of the moves that sparked the cur­rent wave of protests.

While demon­stra­tors have clashed with riot po­lice in the streets, Ortega’s bat­tle against the au­thor­i­ties has been waged in the courts. As vi­o­lence swelled over re­cent weeks, Ortega re­newed her crit­i­cism of them, ac­cus­ing po­lice of killing pro­test­ers. “We must fight for democ­racy... We must con­demn vi­o­lence wher­ever it comes from,” she said on Mon­day in an ad­dress to law­mak­ers. “Dark­ness does not last for­ever. It is up to us to see that san­ity and unity pre­vail,” she said. “Oth­er­wise, an­ar­chy will de­vour us.”An­a­lysts say that Ortega’s stand against Maduro could sig­nal a split in the gov­ern­ment camp.

The gov­ern­ment has ac­cused for­mer in­te­rior min­is­ter and ex-in­tel­li­gence chief Miguel Ro­driguez Tor­res, a re­tired mil­i­tary com­man­der, of plot­ting against it with US back­ing. Maduro re­tains the pub­lic sup­port of the head of the army, Vladimir Padrino Lopez-a key fac­tor for him to stay in power. But the pres­i­dent last month said he was re­plac­ing four other se­nior com­man­ders of the armed forces. “Maduro’s per­se­cu­tion of dis­si­dent chav­is­tas will em­bolden the op­po­si­tion to con­tinue protest­ing, with in­creased re­pres­sion stok­ing pub­lic out­rage,” said an­a­lysts from the Eura­sia Group con­sul­tancy last week in a note.

Maduro has en­raged his op­po­nents mean­while by launch­ing a plan to form an assem­bly to re­write the con­sti­tu­tion. Op­po­nents say he will pack the “con­stituent assem­bly” with his al­lies to cling to power. Vot­ing for mem­bers of the assem­bly is sched­uled for July 30. The op­po­si­tion on Mon­day said it would hold a pop­u­lar vote against that on July 16. “The next ma­jor flash­point will be the elec­tion on 30 July of del­e­gates to the Con­stituent Assem­bly,” Eura­sia wrote. “How­ever, the po­lit­i­cal cri­sis is so fluid that the coun­try could reach a tip­ping point be­fore then.”—AFP

CARACAS: Anti-gov­ern­ment demon­stra­tors protest in Caracas, Venezuela. Demon­stra­tors are tak­ing the streets af­ter three months of con­tin­ued protests that has left dozens dead and seen the coun­try’s chief pros­e­cu­tor Luisa Ortega barred from leav­ing the coun­try and her bank ac­counts frozen. — AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.