Cilia Flores

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Cilia Flores
Cilia Flores 2013.jpg
Cilia Flores in 2013
First Lady of Venezuela
Assumed role
19 April 2013
Disputed with Fabiana Rosales
PresidentNicolás Maduro
Preceded byMarisabel Rodríguez de Chávez
Succeeded byFabiana Rosales
4th President of the National Assembly
In office
15 August 2006 – 5 January 2011
PresidentHugo Chávez
Preceded byNicolás Maduro
Succeeded byFernando Soto Rojas
Attorney General of Venezuela
In office
25 January 2012 – 11 March 2013
PresidentHugo Chávez
Nicolás Maduro
Preceded byCarlos Escarrá
Succeeded byManuel Enrique Galindo
Member of the National Assembly
In office
5 January 2016 – 2 June 2017
ConstituencyCojedes
In office
30 July 2000 – 2 February 2012
ConstituencyCapital District
Member of the National Constituent Assembly
Assumed office
4 August 2017
Personal details
Born
Cilia Flores

(1956-10-15) 15 October 1956 (age 62)
Tinaquillo, Venezuela
Political partyUnited Socialist Party of Venezuela
Spouse(s)Walter Gavidia Rodríguez (div.)
Nicolás Maduro (m. 2013)
Children3
ProfessionLawyer

Cilia Adela Gavidia Flores de Maduro (born 15 October 1956) is a Venezuelan lawyer and politician. She is married to the President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro, making her the First Lady. Since 2015, she has also been a deputy in the National Assembly of Venezuela (of which she was president from 2006 to 2011) for her home state of Cojedes.[1] In 2017, the Constituent National Assembly was founded, in which she is a member of the Presidential Commission.

Personal life[edit]

Flores is married to President Nicolás Maduro, and replaced Maduro as President of the National Assembly in August 2006, when he resigned to become Minister of Foreign Affairs, with Flores becoming the first woman to serve as President of the National Assembly.[2] The two had been in a romantic relationship since the 1990s when Flores was Hugo Chávez's lawyer following the 1992 Venezuelan coup d'état attempts[3] and were married in July 2013 months after Maduro became president.[4]

Her husband Maduro has one son, Nicolás Maduro Guerra, whom he appointed to senior government posts: Chief of the presidency's Special Inspectors Body, head of the National Film School, and a seat in the 2017 Constituent National Assembly,[5] while Flores has an adopted son, Efraín Campos, who is her nephew from her deceased sister.[3]

Political career[edit]

As the lead attorney for Chávez's defense team, she was instrumental in securing Chávez's release from prison in 1994 after his unsuccessful coup in 1992.[6]

Tactical Command for the Revolution[edit]

While serving as chair of the Political Command of the Bolivarian Revolution, Flores was part of the Tactical Command for the Revolution, an organization that ran the majority of Hugo Chávez's political machine. On 7 April, days before the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt, Flores along with Guillermo García Ponce and Freddy Bernal shared plans of using the Bolivarian Circles as a paramilitary force to end opposition marches and defend Chávez in Miraflores Palace by organizing them into brigades.[7]

On 11 April while opposition marchers headed towards Miraflores Palace in protest, Bolivarian Circles gathered around the palace[8] armed with rocks, clubs and molotov cocktails all within view of the National Guard that was stationed nearby.[9] The Bolivarian Circles then participated in demonstrations that became violent.[10]

National Assembly[edit]

Flores with President Hugo Chávez (2009)

A member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Flores replaced her husband Maduro as Speaker of the Assembly in August 2006, when he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs; she was the first woman to serve as president of the National Assembly (2006–2011). On 10 January 2007, Flores swore Chávez into office following the 2006 presidential election.[2]

Flores ran for a seat in the National Assembly in Venezuela's 2015 parliamentary elections as a candidate for the Great Patriotic Pole.[11] She said she would use her seat to defend the social rights of citizens and the achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution.[12]

First Lady[edit]

Upon Maduro's tight victory in the 2013 presidential election over Henrique Capriles, Cilia Flores became Venezuela's First Lady, a position that had been vacant since 2003.

Controversy[edit]

Nepotism[edit]

Efraín Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas after their arrest by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration on 10 November 2015.

Flores was accused of nepotism with individuals claiming that several of her close relatives became employees of the National Assembly while she was a deputy.[13][14][15] According to Tal Cual, 16 relatives of Flores were in an office while she was in the National Assembly.[16] Flores responded to the reporters who shared the nepotism allegations stating it was part of a smear campaign, calling them "mercenaries of the pen".[13] Both opposition and members of the government denounced the alleged nepotism calling it an injustice, with one PSUV member taking the allegations to Venezuela's Ministry of Labour.[13] In 2012, relatives of Flores were removed from office[16] though some received other occupations in the government a year later.[17]

Flores' son, Walter Jacob Gavidia Flores, whose last salary through 2015 was less than $1,000, made multiple international trips in 2015 and 2016 on private flights costing approximately $20,000 per trip. Gavidia Flores spent most of his time in the United States, though he also took chartered flights to France, Germany, Malta and Spain.[18]

Narcosobrinos incident[edit]

On 10 November 2015, two nephews of Cilia Flores, Efraín Antonio Campos Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas, were arrested in Port-au-Prince, Haiti by local police while attempting to make a deal to transport 800 kilograms[19] of cocaine destined for New York City and were turned over to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) where they were flown directly to the United States.[20][21][22] Campos stated on the DEA plane that he was the step son of President Maduro and that he grew up in the Maduro household while being raised by Flores.[21][22] The men traveled to Haiti with Venezuelan diplomatic passports but did not have diplomatic immunity according to former head of DEA international operations Michael Vigil.[20] The two were previously monitored and filmed by the DEA between October and November 2015 after they contacted a DEA informant for advice on trafficking cocaine and brought a kilogram of cocaine to the informant to show its quality.[21] The incident happened at a time when multiple high-ranking members of the Venezuelan government were being investigated for their involvement of drug trafficking.[21]

On 18 November 2016, Flores' two nephews were found guilty of trying to ship drugs into the United States so they could "obtain a large amount of cash to help their family stay in power".[23]

Sanctions[edit]

Flores has been sanctioned by several countries and is banned from entering neighboring Colombia. The Colombian government maintains a list of people banned from entering Colombia or subject to expulsion; as of January 2019, the list had 200 people with a "close relationship and support for the Nicolás Maduro regime".[24][25]

Responding to the May 2018 Venezuelan presidential election, Canada sanctioned 14 Venezuelans, including Flores,[26] stating that the "economic, political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela has continued to worsen as it moves ever closer to full dictatorship".[27] The government said the 2018 presidential election was "illegitimate and anti-democratic",[26] and sanctioned Flores, along with 13 other members of the ANC and TSJ.[28]

On 27 March 2018, Panama sanctioned 55 public officials[29] and 16 businesses that operate in Panama,[30] related to the family of Flores.[31] The sanctioned businesses have members of the Malpica-Flores family on their boards of directors.[31] The companies, headed by various members of Flores' family and recently created, were sanctioned for allegedly laundering money.[32]

The Treasury Department seized a private jet and imposed sanctions on Maduro's inner circle in September 2018;[33][34] Flores and top Maduro administration officials were sanctioned.[35] Maduro responded to his wife's sanctions, saying "You don't mess with Cilia. You don’t mess with family. Don’t be cowards! Her only crime [is] being my wife."[36] The United States said the sanctions were a response to the "plundering" of Venezuela's resources.[37]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Diputada Cilia Flores: daremos la pelea, aquí nadie se rinde". TeleSUR (in Spanish). 7 January 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b Cawthorne, Andrew; Naranjo, Mario (9 December 2012). "Who is Nicolas Maduro, Possible Successor to Hugo Chávez?". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b Dreier, Hannah (12 November 2015). "US COURT: NEPHEWS OF VENEZUELA FIRST LADY HELD WITHOUT BAIL". Associated Press. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  4. ^ Guererro, Kay; Dominguez, Claudia; Shoichet, Catherine E. (12 November 2015). "Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's family members indicted in U.S. court". CNN. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  5. ^ "Venezuelan president's son, Nicolas Maduro Jr., showered in dollar bills as economy collapses". Fox News Latino. 19 March 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  6. ^ "Cilia Flores Maduro Bio". Daily Entertainment News. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  7. ^ Nelson, Brian A. (2009). The silence and the scorpion : the coup against Chávez and the making of modern Venezuela (online ed.). New York: Nation Books. pp. 20–22. ISBN 1568584180.
  8. ^ Nelson, Brian A. (2012). The silence and the scorpion : the coup against Chávez and the making of modern Venezuela. New York: Nation Books. p. 16. ISBN 9781568586861.
  9. ^ Nelson, Brian A. (2009). The silence and the scorpion : the coup against Chávez and the making of modern Venezuela (online ed.). New York: Nation Books. p. 19. ISBN 1568584180.
  10. ^ "UNHCR - The UN Refugee Agency". www.unhcr.org. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  11. ^ "Cilia Flores formalizó su inscripción para las parlamentarias". El Nacional. 5 August 2015. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  12. ^ "Cilia Flores inscribió su candidatura parlamentaria". El Universal. 5 August 2015. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  13. ^ a b c Lares Martiz, Valentina (15 July 2008). "Denuncian por nepotismo a la presidenta del Congreso venezolano, Cilia Flores". El Tiempo (Colombia). Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  14. ^ "Clan Flores fuera de la AN". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  15. ^ "Es falso que tenga muchos familiares en la Asamblea" Archived 2012-02-04 at the Wayback Machine 30 May 2008.
  16. ^ a b Ayala Altuve, Dayimar (7 July 2012). "Fin al nepotismo Flores". Tal Cual. Archived from the original on 18 January 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  17. ^ Lozano, Daniel (5 October 2013). "Acusan de nepotismo a Maduro". El Diario La Prensa. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  18. ^ "Hijo de Cilia Flores pasa largas temporadas en los Estados Unidos". La Patilla. 12 January 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  19. ^ Kay Guerrero and Claudia Dominguez (2015-11-12). "U.S. agents arrest members of Venezuelan President's family in Haiti".
  20. ^ a b Goodman, Joshua; Caldwell, Alicia A.; Sanchez, Fabiola (11 November 2015). "Nephews of Venezuelan First Lady Arrested on US Drug Charges". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  21. ^ a b c d de Córdoba, José (11 November 2015). "U.S. Arrests Two Relatives of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Drug-Trafficking Charges". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  22. ^ a b Llorente, Elizabeth; Llenas, Bryan (11 November 2015). "Relatives of Venezuelan president arrested trying to smuggle nearly 1 ton of drugs into U.S." Fox News Latino. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  23. ^ Raymond, Nate (19 November 2016). "Venezuelan first lady's nephews convicted in U.S. drug trial". Reuters. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  24. ^ "Maduro encabeza lista de 200 venezolanos que no pueden entrar al país" [Maduro tops list of 200 Venezuelans who can not enter the country]. El Tiempo (in Spanish). 30 January 2019. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  25. ^ "Primera parte de lista de colaboradores de Maduro que no pueden ingresar a Colombia" [First part of list of Maduro collaborators who can not enter Colombia] (in Spanish). RCN Radio. 31 January 2019. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  26. ^ a b "Canada to impose sanctions on more Venezuelan officials". VOA News. Reuters. 30 May 2018. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  27. ^ "Regulations amending the Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations: SOR/2018-114". Canada Gazette, Part II. 152 (12). 30 May 2018. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  28. ^ Trillo, Manuel (30 May 2018). "Canadá impone sanciones a la mujer de Maduro y otros trece cargos del régimen de Venezuela" [Canada imposes sanctions on Maduro's wife and thirteen other charges of the Venezuelan regime]. ABC International (in Spanish). Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  29. ^ "Los 55 funcionarios sancionados por Panamá por 'blanqueo de capitales'". El Nacional (in Spanish). 30 March 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2019. Also at Panama Economic and Finance Ministry
  30. ^ Hermoso Fernandez, Jesus Noel (29 March 2018). "Panamá sanciona a Nicolás Maduro, 54 funcionarios chavistas y a 16 empresas relacionadas (Lista)" [Panama sanctions Nicolás Maduro, 54 Chavista officials and 16 related business (List)]. Efecto Cocuyo. Retrieved 4 April 2019. Also at Panama Economic and Finance Ministry
  31. ^ a b Camacho, Carlos (27 March 2018). "Panama sanctions Venezuela, including Maduro & 1st Lady family companies". Latin American Herald Tribune. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  32. ^ "¡Qué casualidad! Empresas sancionadas por Panamá son de la familia de "Cilita" Flores | El Cooperante". El Cooperante (in Spanish). 2018-03-31. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  33. ^ "US imposes sanctions on Venezuela's First Lady Cilia Flores". BBC. 25 September 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  34. ^ "EE UU impuso nuevas sanciones contra funcionarios del gobierno de Maduro". El Nacional (in Spanish). 25 September 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  35. ^ "Treasury targets Venezuelan President Maduro's inner circle and proceeds of corruption in the United States" (Press release). U.S. Department of the Treasury. 25 September 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  36. ^ "US Sanctions on Venezuela First Lady solidify country's Mafia State status". InsightCrime. 27 September 2018. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  37. ^ "U.S. sanctions target Venezuela's first lady and president's inner circle". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-09-27.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Nicolás Maduro
President of the National Assembly of Venezuela
2006-2011
Succeeded by
Fernando Soto Rojas
Preceded by
Carlos Escarrá
Attorney General of Venezuela
2012–2013
Succeeded by
Manuel Enrique Galindo
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Marisabel Rodríguez de Chávez
First Lady of Venezuela
2013–present
Disputed with Fabiana Rosales
Succeeded by
Fabiana Rosales