If you’ve been following this story for the past year or so this won’t come as much of a shock. A Venezuela Supreme Court Justice named Christian Tyrone Zerpa has fled the country with his wife and children. Zerpa gave an interview to a news outlet in Florida and said he had remained silent about the legitimacy of the last presidential election out of concern for his family but says he can no longer continue to help President Maduro rule the country. From NPR:
Zerpa met a reporter in Orlando and told the outlet, “I think the president, Nicolás Maduro, does not deserve a second chance because the election he supposedly won was not a free election, was not a competitive election.”…
Zerpa said he did not speak out against the election results months ago out of concerns for his family’s safety.
Maduro’s Socialist Party “gradually but steadily” co-opted the Supreme Court and “turned it into an appendage of the executive branch,” according to the International Commission of Jurists.
There have been a number of opposition leaders who have been threatened or even imprisoned based on manufactured crimes, but Zerpa isn’t one of those. On the contrary, he was selected for the court because of his loyalty to the socialist party and had a close relationship with President Maduro’s wife, Cilia Flores. From EV TV Miami (translation by Google):
In the past he served as deputy for the governing party, PSUV, and thanks to the protection of First Combatant Cilia Flores became one of the so-called “express magistrates” with the commitment to maintain loyalty to the regime.
“They chose me because I was one of the loyal, disciplined members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela,” the now fugitive from justice told Carla Angola in the interview.
Zerpa revealed that it is Cilia Flores herself, who directs and controls the magistrates, for which she assured that there is no autonomy of powers. He even acknowledged that many of the decisions of the illegitimate TSJ are taken after a “call to Miraflores”.
Miraflores is the Venezuelan presidential palace, i.e. the equivalent of the White House. So what Zerpa is saying is that the country’s Supreme Court is now taking dictation from the First Lady. Venezuela has responded to this defection exactly as you’d expect, by accusing Zerpa of having fled to avoid charges of sexual harassment:
The president of the Supreme Court of Justice, Magistrate Maikel Moreno, pointed out that ex-Judge Christian Tyrone Zerpa was investigated on November 23, 2018, the date on which his file was sent to the Republican Moral Council, as a result of the repeated denunciations officials of his office had filed against him, for unseemly and immoral conduct to the detriment of a group of women who were working in his office, many of whom presented their resignations or had to be relocated to other areas of the institution, before their aberrant conduct, which can only obtain contempt and rejection of society.
Is any of this true? Who knows. What is certain is that the Maduro dictatorship has to come up with some excuse to discredit Zerpa and anything he says about how the government is currently being run.
But it turns out that Magistrate Maikel Moreno, who has been President Maduro’s main enforcer on the court, has a checkered past himself. Last year, Reuters did a lengthy investigation which found he had been arrested for homicide but never charged:
The 51-year-old bodyguard-turned-judge and his court have overruled virtually every major law passed by the opposition-led assembly.
Moreno’s past, however, remains unknown even to most Venezuelans. To trace his ascent, Reuters examined documents and interviewed associates, colleagues and friends of the chief justice in five countries.
The picture that emerges is of a jurist who, by leveraging personal connections and handling politically sensitive cases that other lawyers and judges rejected, endeared himself to Maduro and fellow members of the late Hugo Chavez’s “Bolivarian Revolution.”
In his rise to Venezuela’s top judicial perch, Moreno left behind a past that includes allegations he participated in extortion and influence-peddling rackets and his arrest in 1989 on suspicions of killing a teenager, according to government documents and people familiar with his history.
Reuters found no evidence Moreno was ever tried or convicted of any criminal charges.
Socialism always turns out to be a group of crooks clinging to power while everyone else starves.