Sanity from the Prosecutor General

Venezuela's Prosecutor General, Luisa Ortega
Venezuela’s Prosecutor General, Luisa Ortega

In a rare bout of justice, Venezuela’s Prosecutor General has charged five government intelligence agents with the murder of two people on February 12th. The two people in question are student Bassil Da Costa and chavista activist Juan Montoya.

Initially, government blogs had said the opposition had killed Montoya. Government paramilitary gangs known as “colectivos” claimed Montoya had died in the hands of Leopoldo López and Henrique Capriles. The members of the gang Montoya belonged to vowed to avenge his death at the hands of “fascists.” As for Da Costa, chavista newspaper Últimas Noticias published an analysis claiming to show government forces as being the culprits. It’s nice to know that even the government’s prosecutor now admits it was their own people who killed Montoya and Da Costa.

The question that begs asking, though, is what Leopoldo López is doing in prison.

López, as you may recall, led the march that ended in violence, but left before the violence erupted. Initially, López was going to be charged with murder and terrorism. Those charges have been dropped. Now, he is being charged with “starting a fire” and “causing damages,” as well as “instigation to commit crimes.”

All of these are incredibly vague charges, and the government’s case is remarkably flimsy. This only underscores the fact that López is a prisoner of conscience, perhaps the most famous and visible one in the continent. The government should set him free in order to pave the way for true dialogue in the country.

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