Christian Zerpa, a judge on the Venezuelan Supreme Court, has fled to the United States in protest of President Nicolas Maduro’s second term in office.
His defection was made public during a Sunday interview with EVTV, a Miami broadcaster catering to Venezuelan expatriates.
Per Reuters, he did not publicly condemn Maduro’s re-election in order to avoid jeopardizing his plans to flee the country with his family.
Zerpa was not merely one of the judges on the Supreme Court of Venezuela; he has been Maduro’s most visible ally on the court. When the 2015 elections gave Maduro’s opposition a supermajority in Congress, the Venezuelan President stripped the Congress of their powers. The action went before the Supreme Court, and Zerpa wrote the decision that found in Maduro’s favor.
During his talk with the program host, Zerpa confirmed what many had strongly suspected.
(I)n an interview with Miami broadcaster EVTV on Sunday, Mr Zerpa called the Supreme Court “an appendage of the executive branch”, saying the president would tell justices how to rule on certain cases.BBC
President Maduro will be inaugurated into his second term on January 10. He takes office with an official unemployment rate at 7.3%, but the estimated rate (via the International Monetary Fund) at 33%. The poverty rate is routinely estimated by independent sources to be around 80%. Arrests are now made in response to accusations of potential civil unrest. Venezuelans are fleeing their homeland.
This is an obvious lesson about the dangers of letting Congress cede its authority to a President, whether popular or unpopular. At a time in American politics when the voters are not willing to demonstrably rebuke a party for their leader threatening to bypass the legislature – whether with his pen and his phone, or by declaring a national emergency – it is a lesson that needs to be learned.