Venezuela’s fugitive former top prosecutor resurfaced in Brazil on Wednesday claiming to possess “a lot” of proof of President Nicolas Maduro’s corruption and to warn that her life remains in danger.
According to AFP, Ortega — speaking at a crime-fighting conference in the Brazilian capital with representatives from the Latin American regional trading alliance Mercosur — said Maduro enriched himself in a massive corruption scheme uncovered at Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht.
“I have a lot of proof, concretely in the Odebrecht case, which implicates many high ranking Venezuelans, starting with the president of the republic,” she said.
“The rule of law has died” under Maduro, she said.
Ortega, who fled Venezuela with her husband German Ferrer last Friday and flew into Brasilia from Panama late Tuesday, said she was still in danger.
“I have received threats that there may be an attempt against my life and I hold the Venezuelan government responsible if this happens,” she told the conference.
Brazil’s prosecutor general said in a statement that he had personally invited Ortega, adding to the intrigue surrounding her fate since being fired by Venezuela’s socialist president this month and charged with misconduct.
On Tuesday, Maduro said Ortega and Ferrer had committed “serious crimes” and should be apprehended. Ferrer is accused by Maduro’s government of corruption and extortion.
However, neighboring Columbia and Brazil have both firmly condemned Maduro’s handling of violent political unrest and economic collapse in his oil-rich country. Venezuela has been suspended indefinitely from the Mercosur group.
“This highlights the split between Venezuela and the majority of the neighboring countries,” foreign policy expert Mauricio Santoro, at the Rio de Janeiro State University, said.
Santoro said the Odebrecht allegations in Brasilia would have particular resonance in the regional setting, given the company’s vast reach and the ever-expanding list of corruption suspects.