Venezuela: An arrest order is given for Supreme Court Magistrate with ties to drug trade
Venezuela asks Interpol to capture fugitive judge with links to drug kingpin, and new restrictions will apply to gain access to foreign currency for studies abroad.
International arrest order is issued for Supreme Court magistrate linked to drug trade
The General Prosecutor Office filed on Wednesday 18 April a request through Interpol to capture and extradite judge Eladio Aponte, who is accused of having ties to suspected Venezuelan drug kingpin Walid Makled.
The former general and ex-Supreme Court magistrate fled Venezuela two weeks ago, after being dismissed from his post by the National Assembly for granting a military prosecutor credential to Makled, who is currently standing trial in Caracas for charges including murder and drug trafficking.
Aponte reappeared in Washington on Tuesday 17 April, where he remains in the custody of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In the past week, the judge was interviewed by DEA officers in regards to an ongoing investigation against Venezuelan top ranking civil and military officers suspected of drug trafficking. While in the US, he also gave an interview to SOiTV, a Miami cable channel owned by Eligio Cedeño, another Venezuelan fugitive.
In his TV appearance, Aponte reveled that during his stint as Supreme Court magistrate he manipulated the outcome of several criminal cases at the request of some top government officials, including President Hugo Chávez. His declaration has caused a political uproar in Caracas, where opposition leaders have called to investigate the judge’s allegations.
Meanwhile, several Venezuelan government representatives –including the Vice-president, the leader of the National Assembly and the Minister for Internal Affairs- have charged against the judge for smirching Venezuelan institutions, and also against the US government for harboring a known fugitive.
Ministry of Education restricts access to foreign currency to study overseas
From May onwards, Venezuelans who wish to study abroad will have to choose from a list of 8 government-preferred academic areas in order to gain full access to the official foreign currency exchange market controlled by the Comisión de Administración de Divisas (Currency Administration Commission-CADIVI).
The Venezuelan Ministry for Superior Studies created the list of approved careers in accordance with the objectives stated in the National Plan for Economic and Social Development for the period 2007-2013. Among the preferred areas of study are Science, Engineering and Architecture, Agriculture and Environment, and some Health studies subtopics.
Those who wish to study Psychology, Cardiology, Obstetrics, Communications, History, International Relations, Sociology, Law or Economy will have to get their foreign currency through the Sistema de Transacción de Moneda Extranjera (Foreign Currency Transaction System- Sitme), which is run by Venezuela’s Central Bank.
The difference between Cadivi and Sitme is that the first operation does not limit the amount of foreign currency that a student can buy under the official exchange rate of Bs. 4.30 per US$ to pay for its tuition; whereas the second option has a buying yearly limit of US$ 5,000 per student.
Manuel Barroso, president of Cadivi, said he hopes the new restriction will help prevent the approval of fraudulent requests that have mined the close exchange system since it was created in 2003.