Tuesday, 19 March, 2019

Venezuelan Ex-Magistrate Flees to Miami, Pledges to 'Collaborate' with US Authorities

Chile's Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero Canada's Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrew Leslie and Brazil's Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo attend a meeting of the Lima Group in Lima 'Puppet': Maduro Claims National Assembly President 'Created by US Intelligence'
Patty Aguilar | 09 January, 2019, 11:41

Earlier, the Supreme Court said Justice Christian Zerpa, who oversaw electoral issues, has fled the country.

"I've made a decision to leave Venezuela to disavow the government of Nicolas Maduro", Zerpa said in an interview with EVTV, which is broadcast over cable and the internet.

Venezuela's Supreme Court confirmed in a statement posted on social media that Zerpa had fled, referring to him as a former magistrate and saying he was under investigation over accusations of sexual harassment by women in his office.

Maduro, who has presided over a virtual collapse of the economy in the once-rich OPEC member-state, is set to be sworn in on Thursday for a second six-year term after elections widely condemned by the worldwide community.

The 13 remaining countries in the Lima Group that signed Friday's statement, which include Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia, called Maduro's new term "illegitimate" and urged him to hand power over to the National Assembly until democratic elections can be held.

The US State Department said it "celebrates" the assembly officials' swearing-in, a ceremony attended by Charge d' Affaires James Story.

Suspicious Packages Found At Indian Mission, Other Embassies In Australia
Victoria Police said they are aware of the suspicious packages, but do not believe the public should be concerned. Two days before, a suspicious package containing white powder was found at the Argentine consulate in Sydney .

Oil prices rally amid OPEC-led output cut deal, falling U.S. inventories
Shares have risen on expectations that trade talks this week between the United States and China will ease the trade war. In fact, the continuous low price of oil is depicting a weaker economy of the world and the surging U.S. production.

#SaveRahaf: Activists' lightning campaign made Saudi teen's flight a global cause
Saudi Arabia's human rights record has been under heavy scrutiny since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi late a year ago . She used a Canadian tourist's phone to send a message, a video of which was posted to Twitter, saying her family would kill her.

It is also expected that the Argentine government will aim to reject global organisations giving loans to Venezuela, something Argentina and Brazil have both already done by vetoing a US$500 million dollar loan which had previously been approved by the Development Bank of Latin America.

Journalist Carla Angola, who said she interviewed Zerpa, reported he was in Florida and was prepared to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors investigating Venezuelan corruption and human rights violations. Most outside observers have blamed Maduro's government for leading the once-wealthy oil nation into a historic political and humanitarian crisis. Venezuela faces severe food shortages and hyper-inflation.

He added that he did not come out publicly against Maduro's re-election in May because he wanted to ensure he and his family could leave the country safely. He also follows a string of opposition politicians, including some fellow former Maduro loyalists, in denouncing the regime overseas.

Maduro says he intends to take the oath despite his critics and press ahead with the socialist revolution, promising a turnaround of the failing economy. The election was dismissed by many countries as a sham. "Venezuelans have the opportunity to enjoy 2019 as a year of prosperity and progress".

Maduro was re-elected May 20 in presidential elections called by a regime-backed Constituent Assembly and boycotted by the opposition, many of whose best-known leaders were under house arrest or barred from running. He urged Mexico and Spain to join the broad effort to help return Venezuela to democratic rule.

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