Deposed chief prosecutor flees Venezuela; Maduro’s constituent assembly seizes power to legislate

Venezuela's former top prosecutor Luisa Ortega arrived in Colombia on Friday after taking a dramatic boat journey from the troubled country. Migration authorities in Bogota confirmed her arrival.

It comes after she was fired by a controversial new legislative superbody and said she feared for her life. 

Univision reported that Ortega fled in a speedboat to Aruba, where she caught a private plane to Bogota. 

"This afternoon the attorney general of Venezuela Luisa Ortega Diaz arrived from Aruba in a private plane to Bogota's airport and completed the corresponding migration process," Colombia's migration agency said in a statement. 

She was accompanied by her husband, the legislator German Ferrer, who earlier this week was accused by Ortega’s replacement of running an "extortion gang." 

In other news, Venezuela's new legislative superbody on Friday gave itself the power to pass laws, superseding the opposition-led congress and fueling criticism by government adversaries that socialist President Nicolas Maduro is consolidating a dictatorship. 

In practice, the move does little to change the existing situation. The Socialist-dominated Supreme Court has stripped power from the congress and shot down nearly every law it has approved since it was taken over by the opposition in 2016. 

But the decision suggests the constituent assembly, elected in July in a vote boycotted by the opposition, is more interested in limiting the opposition's influence than carrying out its official task of rewriting the nation's constitution. 

South American trade bloc Mercosur condemned the assembly for usurping congress's responsibilities, according to a statement released by Brazil's Foreign Ministry. 

Mercosur founding members Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay will not recognize any measures taken by the assembly, the statement said.

The assembly had invited leaders of the existing congress to join the session. Congressional leaders did not attend, insisting it was fraudulently created and usurped their powers. 

"(Congress) only obeys the constitution and the people. We do not recognize the constituent assembly, much less subordinate ourselves to it," Freddy Guevara, an opposition politician and vice president of the congress, wrote on Twitter.

 

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