Venezuela’s Maduro pardons dozens of political opponents

Venezuela’s Maduro pardons dozens of political opponents

Venezuela’s Maduro pardons dozens of political opponents

CARACAS, Venezuela — The Venezuelan government said Monday that it had pardoned more than 100 people, including dozens of political opponents who are in prison, have taken refuge in foreign embassies in Caracas or fled the country.

The move comes ahead of congressional elections set for Dec. 6 that the coalition led by U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó says it is boycotting because conditions for the vote are not fair.

The names listed in the pardon don’t include prominent opposition leaders such as Leopoldo López, who remains inside a foreign ambassador’s residence in Caracas, or Julio Borges, a powerful opposition lawmaker who is in neighbouring Colombia.

Relatives of some people on the list who were detained in a Caracas-area prisons rushed to its gates following the government’s announcement.

The Caracas-based prisoner rights group Foro Penal said 50 of those to be pardoned were what the opposition considers politically motivated. Roughly two dozen are lawmakers in the National Assembly.

Minister of Communications Jorge Rodríguez listed 110 people being pardoned, although the terms of the announced amnesty were not clear.

“The government’s intention is to deepen the process of reconciliation for national unity so that political issues are settled by peaceful means and by electoral means,” Rodríguez said.

Maduro’s government framed the presidential decree as a goodwill gesture to boost participation in the upcoming election. It wasn’t immediately clear whether jailed political actors would walk free and those seeking refuge in foreign embassies would step out the gates without fearing reprisals.

Geoff Ramsey, a Washington D.C.-based Venezuela researcher at the Washington Office on Latin America, said this is clearly the product of backdoor negotiations between the Maduro government and moderate sectors in the opposition, which don’t include Guaidó.

The fact they are openly negotiating in defiance of the U.S. government and Guaidó shows that a growing part of Venezuela’s opposition has become frustrated with Venezuela’s political stalemate, he said.

“They’re more interested in pursuing incremental agreements rather than insisting that Maduro has to go before anything meaningful can be negotiated,” Ramsey said. “The big question is whether this will go beyond political prisoners to include things like free and fair elections.”

Venezuela is gripped by an economic and political crisis that has sent more than 5 million fleeing in recent years, escaping scarcities of basic goods and soaring inflation that has left many struggling in poverty.

Guaidó for over a year has led a campaign backed by the United States and dozens of other countries to oust Maduro, who remains in power with backing from the military and international allies like Russia, China, Cuba, Turkey and Iran.

The announcement of the pardons came days after authorities released on house arrest lawmaker Juan Requesens, who was jailed for two years and accused of taking part in a failed attempt to attack President Nicolás Maduro with two drones that exploded during an outdoor military ceremony.

Among the lawmakers listed in Maduro’s pardon decree is Freddy Guevara, who has lived in the Chilean ambassador’s residence in Caracas for nearly three years.

Two jailed lawmakers in the list are Renzo Prieto and Gilber Caro, while José Guerra, Tomás Guanipa, Mariela Magallanes and Américo de Grazia live outside of Venezuela, leaving under the threat of being arrested on accusations they want to overthrow Maduro.

“Maduro is not our president and I am no criminal,” De Grazia, who lives in Italy, said on Twitter, addressing Maduro. “If you wish to contribute to Venezuela’s peace, pardon the country from this autocracy.”

However, Leocenis García, a congressional candidate campaigning for a seat in the National Assembly in the upcoming elections, said he believes that Maduro’s government doesn’t have a chance to come out on top — especially if there’s a groundswell of participation from opposition parties.

García leads ProCitizens, a small political party that is opposed to Maduro but not part of the opposition coalition led by Guaidó and Guaidó’s mentor Leopoldo López.

“I agree that we need as much participation as possible from our political parties,” García said. “The path of violence that the Popular Will Party of Leopoldo López sold to Washington is over, and now we have an electoral path, which is gaining strength.”

___

Follow Scott Smith on Twitter: @ScottSmithAP

Scott Smith And Jorge Rueda, The Associated Press

Venezuela

Just Posted

(Advocate file photo)
Pastor, candidate under restraining order arrested for allegedly breaking COVID laws

CALGARY — A Calgary mayoral candidate who is under a restraining order… Continue reading

Pro-Palestinian protesters run from police following a demonstration in Montreal, Sunday, May 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Tensions flare at Israel-Palestinian demonstrations in Montreal, Toronto

Tensions ran high at competing demonstrations over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in both… Continue reading

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, then-vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, participates in a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. An expert in military affairs says the sudden departure of the  general in charge of Canada's vaccine rollout is unlikely to have any impact on the high-profile program. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canada to get 4.5M vaccine doses as questions swirl around immunization effort

OTTAWA — Canada is set to receive a large infusion of COVID-19… Continue reading

Israelis take cover as a siren sounds a warning of incoming rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Heidi Levine)
Israeli strikes hit Gaza tunnels as diplomats work for truce

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Israeli military unleashed a wave… Continue reading

John Guise is seen at 4 weeks and one day after his birth, weighing two pounds and three ounces, in hospital in Hamilton, Ont., in an Aug. 1 1979, handout photo. Canadian researchers who've tracked a group of men who were born prematurely at a weight of less than one kilogram are finding they tend to age more quickly than male babies who aren't born prematurely. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-John Guise, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Boys born prematurely and very small age faster as men, study suggests

Canadian researchers who tracked a group of men who were born prematurely… Continue reading

Calgary Flames players celebrate the team's overtime win against the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, May 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Lindholm OT winner gives Flames 6-5 win over Canucks despite blowing four-goal lead

VANCOUVER — In a game with little to play for besides pride,… Continue reading

In this photo taken on May 13, 2021, Russia's performer, Manizha, smiles during an interview after rehearsing at the Eurovision Song Contest at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands. For many, the stage and global television audience of millions is a chance to express messages of inclusion, strength and positivity. Manizha has a message of strength for women in her song whose lyrics include the lines: "Every Russian Woman. Needs to know. You're strong enough to bounce against the wall." (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Eurovision Song Contest returns despite coronavirus pandemic

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — Pounding beats? Check. Uplifting lyrics? Check. Huge, backlit… Continue reading

Serena Williams of the United States returns the ball to Italy's Lisa Pigato during their match at the Emilia Romagna Open tennis tournament, in Parma, Monday, May 17, 2021. Serena Williams earned her first victory in more than three months by beating 17-year-old qualifier Lisa Pigato 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of the Emilia-Romagna Open. Williams accepted a wild-card invitation for the Parma tournament after losing her opening match at the Italian Open last week. (AP Photo/Marco Vasini)
Serena Williams posts 1st victory in more than 3 months

PARMA, Italy (AP) — Serena Williams earned her first victory in more… Continue reading

In this Oct. 21, 2014 file photo, people pass an AT&T store in New York's Times Square. AT&T will combine its media operations that include CNN HBO, TNT and TBS in a $43 billion deal with Discovery, the owner of lifestyle networks including the Food Network and HGTV. The deal announced Monday, May 17, 2021, would create a separate media company as households increasingly abandon cable and satellite TV, looking instead at Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
AT&T, Discovery join media brands as cord-cutting encroaches

NEW YORK (AP) — AT&T will combine its massive media operations that… Continue reading

The Minnesota Wild celebrate their overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Eriksson Ek’s OT goal lifts Wild past Vegas 1-0

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Joel Eriksson Ek’s goal at 3:20 of overtime… Continue reading

Toronto Blue Jays' Lourdes Gurriel Jr., celebrates after hitting a double against the Philadelphia Phillies during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Girardi, Segura have confrontation as Phils lose to Jays

Blue Jays 10 Phillies 8 DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — The injury-depleted Philadelphia… Continue reading

New York Islanders' Kyle Palmieri (21) returns to the bench after scoring during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Palmieri’s OT winner lifts Isles by Penguins 4-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The New York Islanders brought Kyle Palmieri home at… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing to examine an update from Federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19, Tuesday, May 11, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)
Fauci says pandemic exposed ‘undeniable effects of racism’

ATLANTA (AP) — The immunologist who leads the COVID-19 response in the… Continue reading

Most Read