I start looking through the opposition press this morning thinking, "hmmmmm, I wonder what else they have on the LVA meta-scandal?"
Funny - it's off El Universal's front page.
Ok, maybe El Nacional...nope, tiny little refrito of Jesse Chacon's lame declaration.
Union Radio, then? Nope, just Chavez ranting about rivers of blood bla bla bla...
Ermmm...I know: Globo! Nope, it's the ULA riots there.
Harumph...maybe...Descifrado? Blimey, even they've lost interest...
I start to scrape the bottom of the barrel...Notitarde? Nope. El Carabobeño? Nope. Ultimas Noticias? Nope. (God, this is getting really desperate.) Correo del Caroni? Nope. El Mundo? Sidestory.
Jesus, only Venezuelanalysis is giving anything like high billing to the meta-scandal, with a hilariously naive, heavily sanitized, 48 hour old piece (storyline: corrupt magistrate gets his comeupance!)
I find it staggering, but the LVA incriminate-a-thon was a one-day story!
How is that possible? After years and years of speculation and allegations about government meddling in the judicial system, about Gangster Midgets and vicepresidential hairy hands in the Anderson case, after sooo much wondering about what was behind Nicolas Maduro's attacks on Judge María Alejandra Rivas, after all that finally we get an insider who comes out and just hands us the Roseta Stone to kleptobolivarianismo's methods and allignments and the papers lose interest after all of one news cycle?!?
I seriously don't get it. Where are the exposés on Julio Makarem and Pedro Torres Ciliberto? Where are the photo-essays documenting Arné Chacón's lifestyle? Where is the basic curiosity you'd think would push any normal journalist to look into Belkys Cedeño's influence? Are these guys just tarados? Are their editors THAT intimidated? Or has the level of scandal fatigue reached such an extreme that really nobody cares? That it really just isn't news? I can't piece it together...
Quinto Dia to the rescue
The only half-way serious reporting of the behind-the-scenes intrigues of the LVA meta-scandal comes in this Quinto Día piece attributed to a "J.L. Hernández." By his reckoning, the whole thing comes down to the ongoing fight within chavismo between Pedro Carreño's faction and Nicolas Maduro's.
Velásquez Alvaray, himself a Carreño man, had been struggling for control over the court system with Maduro's protegé, Belkys Cedeño, who heads the Caracas Court Circuit. You might remember Belkys Cedeño as the judge who infamously ordered the TSJ's press room shut down and had Judge María Mercedes Prado tossed out of the building to stop her making embarrassing declarations about the reasons she was fired. Prado, incidentally, had been in charge of the explosive (literally) case of the bombing of the Spanish and Colombian diplomatic missions in Caracas back in february 2003. (A signature Helmeyer/Del Nogal hit...but here I really digress...)
According to Hernández, Chávez dithered over which side to back until one of LVA's underlings tried to shore up his own position by currying favor directly with Chávez's mom. This sent Chávez into a fury and sealed the maneouver to purge LVA and his people from the tribunal.
With LVA out of the way, Belkys Cedeño - who has some 60 official complaints lodged against her, and is now the odds on favorite to be the mysterious "La Donna" supposedly heading the Band of Midgets - consolidates the Maduro Faction's ascendancy over the judicial branch. Cedeño, who has a long and malodorous Google Trail, is one of these chavista judges who mysteriously keeps getting picked "by lottery" to rule on very high profile, politically sensitive cases.
Part of what's valuable about LVA's supercharged press conference is that it allows us to start piecing together the always-murky map of who's on whose "team" in the chavista faction wars. We start to get a sense that Maduro and Jesse Chacón head a faction with deep tentacles in the Caracas courts, including Cedeño and Maikel Moreno, the support of TSJ head Omar Mora Diaz, close money links with Jesse Chacón's brother and Pedro Torres Ciliberto, but also financed by Julio Makarem of the NAOR/Vatramafia fame.
Intriguing side-show: in the second recording LVA presented at his dynamite press conference, Judge Rivas says Makarem was actually the go-between sent by Belkys Cedeño to rope her into a conspiracy to implicate first Alberto Federico Ravell (for trying to bribe her) and then Luis Velásquez Alvaray himself. Rivas, who refused to play along, is now paying the price: she's been charged with corruption by the the Prosecutor General's Office.
Unfortunately, since defenestrated Maduro man Jesús Caldera Infante did not defend himself by spilling the beans on the Carreño faction, we don't have a comparable sense of the who's who in the "Barinas Group."
Admittedly the second chunk of this post is just a concatenation of rumors and more-or-less likely conjectures, and more than obviously a single damn blogger in Europe does not have the means to piece this whole complicated puzzle together. Now if Venezuelan journos could FOCUS on this story for more than one news cycle at a time, we might collaboratively figure out how this story whole thing hangs together.