By Youri Kemp
Caribbean News Now associate editor
MIAMI, USA — Former Venezuelan Supreme Court Justice, Christian Zerpa, has fled to the United States to protest President Nicolas Maduro’s regime.
Zerpa, once a staunch supporter of Maduro, fled to Miami, Florida, where in an interview he told EVTV: “I’ve decided to leave Venezuela to disavow the government of Nicolas Maduro.”
Zerpa also called the last presidential elections, which saw Maduro win in a landslide that many saw as flagrantly flawed and illegal, the last straw for him and he decided to speak out against what looks like a totalitarian regime now being run by Maduro in Venezuela.
Zerpa had been a crucial ally for Maduro on the court during his tenure, writing a key legal opinion in 2016 justifying the president’s decision to strip congress of its powers.
Maduro’s ruling Socialist party had lost control of the legislature to the opposition in a landslide vote in the parliamentary elections in December, 2016.
But also in the interview with EVTV on Sunday, Zerpa called the Supreme Court “an appendage of the executive branch”, saying the president would tell justices how to rule on certain cases.
The Maduro regime has fired back on the defection of Zerpa, stating that Zerpa is a fugitive from Venezuelan justice and a pending investigation on sexual harassment claims at Zerpa’s court offices.
This is the latest, high profile defection from the Maduro regime since the political instability and humanitarian crisis began.
The last high profile defection from the Maduro regime was in August, 2017 when former prosecutor general, Luisa Marvelia Ortega Díaz, and her husband fled to Bogota, Colombia, after a warrant was issued for their arrest for what the Maduro regime said was “serious misconduct” in office.
Meanwhile, on Thursday the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) agreed “to not recognize the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro’s new term as of the 10th of January of 2019.”
The resolution was approved with 19 votes in favour, six against, eight abstentions and one absent.