Venezuelans Watch As President’s Nephews’ NY Trial Begins

On Monday, the trial against Nicolás Maduro’s relatives for alleged drug trafficking began at the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The accused, Efraín Antonio Campo-Flores – the godson [and nephew] of Cilia Flores, the Venezuelan president’s wife – and Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas were arrested on Nov. 10, 2015, in Haiti and extradited to New York by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Tweet: “#Narconephews don’t want the jury to see pictures of them ‘shackled’ as they boarded the DEA plane in Haiti.” The photo is of Efraín Antonio Campo Flores (second from left) and Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas (third from right) on Nov. 12, 2015, in Haiti.

On the morning of the first day of the trial, activity considerably increased at the Consulate General of Venezuela in New York, as well as in the communities, both real and virtual, of Venezuelan immigrants in the United States, who expect a fair process in U.S. courts.

According to journalist Verónica Castillo, 30, “measures should be taken for them to be judged just like any other regular citizen and not receive special treatment just because they have a close relationship with the Venezuelan government.” The journalist, who lives in Philadelphia, expressed her satisfaction with the fact that the men are being judged in the United States, which would guarantee a more transparent trial.

Some people said they had no doubts about the culpability of the accused. “They should be in jail for the rest of their lives,” said Alberto, 51, who chose not to give his full name (…) The Miami resident, who has lived in the United States for 20 years, said that he thinks “it’s wonderful” that justice is in the hands of the U.S. system. “There are a lot of people in the [Venezuelan] government involved in drugs,” he added. For that reason, he does not believe that justice would have been done in his native country.

Alejandra Lavadenz, 42, who says she is 100 percent against the current government, thinks that the defendants “must be served American justice.” The Queens resident recently brought her mother and sister from Venezuela. “No one there even talks about the case. They say it’s a lie of the empire,” she said her relatives tell her. Lavadenz believes that a guilty verdict would show Venezuelans in their country that “there really is justice” in the United States.

Still, for some Venezuelans, the case of the “narcosobrinos” –“narconephews” – as the media in that country has dubbed them, is of little importance.

“The fact that they are judging someone who is a relative of a politician is not my priority at the moment,” said musician Alfredo Tinoco, 37. The Manhattan resident is more concerned about the lack of basic products.

Campo-Flores and Flores de Freitas are accused of conspiring to export 1,700 pounds (800 kilograms) of cocaine from Honduras to the United States. The case will continue for two weeks and, if found guilty, the two men face a maximum penalty of life in prison.

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