Colombia formally asks Venezuela’s opposition to extradite fugitive politician

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Colombia’s foreign minister said Thursday that it had formally asked Venezuela’s opposition to extradite a fugitive coalition politician who is held by the neighboring country’s authorities.

The extradition request for fugitive Conservative Party politician Aida Merlano was filed with the Bogota envoy of “the legitimate government of President Juan Guaido” instead of the government of Nicolas Maduro that is in power.

Duque’s magical realism

Foreign Minister Claudia Blum.

The request made to Guaido’s non-existent government to “take all necessary steps to enable Ms. Merlano to return to Colombian territory, answer for her crimes and serve the sentence imposed on her” for election fraud borders the absurd.

Last year’s reelection of Maduro was not recognized by dozens of countries in the Americas and Europe, but Guaido is nobody but the chairman National Assembly disregarding other countries’ opinions.

The opposition leader “being willing to offer all his collaboration and that of the legitimate institutions of Venezuela to attend this case” is nothing but rhetoric of Colombia’s Foreign Minister Claudia Blum that is unlikely to have effect other than a few funny memes on Twitter.

The reality is that Merlano is in a Venezuelan jail she can only leave if chief prosecutor Tarek Saab drops criminal charges against her or if she escapes like she did in Bogota last year.

Maduro’s latest weapon

Tarek Saab (Image: Senado Federal) [CC BY]

Venezuela’s authorities don’t need an extradition request to expel Merlano; they can simply expel her for having entered the country illegally.

Instead, Saab filed conspiracy charges against Merlano, which allowed him to jail the politician and extract information on Colombia’s notoriously corrupt political system from an insider.

Maduro offered Duque to extradite the politician if Colombia’s president agreed to reestablish consular relations.

Days after Duque’s rejected his Venezuelan counterpart’s “blackmail,” Merlano appeared in court and laid bare the alleged criminal activity of the Colombia’s politicians, claiming even that the president was in on a plot to assassinate her.

Colombia’s Justice Minister, Margarita Cabello, said Merlano’s testimony “a fabrication of the dictatorial regime” of Maduro, ignoring the fact that some claims confirmed Colombian courts.

According to the Conservative Party insider, she had evidence that would sustain her claims, indicating that Merlano could provide Venezuela’s authorities with more ammunition to damage Colombia’s already unpopular president.

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