Maduro's Government Releases Political Prisoners, Calls it “Pardon”

The measure was announced as a presidential pardon seeking to improve the political climate, so there’s more participation in an election without guarantees

There's still pain on Roberto Marrero's face.

Photo: El Clarín

  • With a decree signed by Nicolás, the regime announced on Monday that 110 citizens were pardoned. Only 50 of those were in jail; out of the other 70, 37 were being investigated and 23 had already been released with precautionary measures, some of them had been released, meaning the list wasn’t exclusively composed of prisoners. Nicolás’s Communications minister, Jorge Rodríguez, emphasized that his president is “a true champion in search for dialogue” and confirmed that the government has spoken to members of the opposition who have “assumed a position to participate” in December and assured that any electoral event is an exchange. Rodríguez said that with this decision, they intend to inspire more participation from voters as part of the “broad spectrum of guarantees for December 6th.” The minister even expects there will be more candidates and said that some of the people who were just released could be nominated. 
  • Delcy Rodríguez, Iris Varela and Nestor Reverol will be in charge of enforcing this pardon that will be in place starting with its publication in the Official Gazette. The decree recognizes that at least 28 AN deputies have open cases against them, so they’re sheltering in embassies, abroad or in jail. According to Rodríguez, after yesterday, there’s no excuse to not reconcile. 
  • On the other hand, Juan Guaidó sent a message to the families of prisoners released: “Today, the regime released hostages, and with it, recognized a long list of political prisoners and persecuted people, proof that this is a dictatorship,” he wrote and added that “the dictatorship does this to try to legitimize the fraud (the elections), defeated by law, politically, with the people and abroad. It’s a trap and we won’t fall for it.” It’s clear that the caretaker government isn’t the opposition that has participated in these talks. 
  • This exercise is a summary of how this perverse system operates: Nicolás decrees people to be released as arbitrarily as they’re detained. Yesterday was a day about force, not about law. They admit there are political prisoners, which they have denied for years, as they denied our immense forced migration. Of course the release wasn’t welcomed within chavista ranks. The prêt-à-porter opposition at the  “Mesita de negociación” was useless for chavismo, as it didn’t bring legitimacy at home or abroad because they represented no one. So, Nicolás chose to negotiate with a part of the traditional opposition disappointed in the caretaker government, they decided to issue these pardons and, by doing so, they allegedly create incentives so this sector participates in the “elections” in December, without a legitimate CNE, guarantees or transparency. Those who release prisoners they threw in jail because of political opposition aren’t democrats. There’s no true freedom in a country without a rule of law, because you or anyone else can go to jail at any moment. However, this is good news for political prisoners, their families and the cause they represent.  This good news doesn’t change any electoral condition, mind you, so many people still have cases against them or are in jail just for opposing the government. It’s impossible not thinking about them. 
  • A total of 25 parties supporting Juan Guaidó ratified on Monday that they won’t run in the December “election.” They published a communiqué where they state that the route has been discussed with 135 political and social organizations, for its debate and validation. They explicitly mention that “unity is urgent and necessary. It isn’t a goal in itself, but a fundamental requirement to achieve a transition. Debate nurtures democracy, but divisions only help the dictator and generate hopelessness in our people.” That’s why they ask to “yield” for the good of the majority and they said that political leaders are obligated to be democratic, “to accept the decisions made by the majority, even when they don’t favor a particular position.” The signatory parties emphasized: “Nobody can do it on their own, nobody has the full truth in their hands and only if we work together will we build a way for hope and freedom in Venezuela.” 
  • Juan Guaidó said that he’ll keep working a couple of days to achieve alliances for a unity pact. He said that he intends to continue consulting “to incorporate more factors,” assuming there are agreements already. 
  • PDVMarina workers denounced again the serious circumstance of the Nabarima, used for storage by PDVSA Oriente: the ship is listing (meaning, tilting to the side) with a million barrels of oil in it. It’s at the Paria Gulf and the consequences on the environment would go beyond Venezuela. 
  • Former mayor Carlos Ocariz said that because of the crisis generated by the pandemic, it would be inhumane to carry out the “elections” in December and suggested that the elections should be postponed so local efforts can be channeled into overcoming the effects of coronavirus. Ocariz believes that the greatest threat of holding this election is the weakness of our health system. 
  • Former governor Henrique Capriles, who has been recognized as one of the actors of the new negotiation that led to the “pardons,” assured that the measure is an act of justice: “They never should have been in jail,” he tweeted and added that Venezuelans know what we’re facing and yet “we have hope that democracy will return to our country, that the horror of desperation ends and that roads for Venezuelans to decide their future in peace open.”
  • President Donald Trump’s government wants to strengthen the oil sanctions against Venezuela in the short term, said U.S. envoy Elliot Abrams to Reuters: “We believe that our sanctions have been extremely efficient in reducing the regime’s income, but we could make them even more efficient. So we’ll do a couple of things to strengthen them in the near future,” said Abrams, without confirming the information that they’ll end a few exceptions in October. 
  • The Spanish Foreign Ministry celebrated the pardon and, as did Josep Borrell on Sunday, emphasized in their message the need for better electoral conditions: “The crisis can’t be resolved without democratic elections in which all forces and candidates can participate with the proper guarantees,” read the text. 
  • Former lawyer of the Oil Ministry Carmelo Urdaneta turned himself in to authorities in Miami, where he faces money laundering and corruption charges, for over $1,200 million, as part of a scheme that involves PDVSA. He posted bail for 1.5 million dollars. Unbelievable. 
  • Last night, Delcy Rodríguez tweeted that there are 860 new cases of coronavirus, for a total of 46,728 cases they’ve admitted to. She also reported five new deaths, 386 total. Two doctors died in Aragua: pediatrician Marina Herrera and general surgeon Edgar Montejo Espinel. NGO Médicos Unidos Venezuela said that 114 healthcare workers have died because of COVID-19 complications. 
  • Eight months after the pandemic started, there have been 25.3 million cases and over 848,200 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The cases in the Americas: 13.3 million. The U.S. is still the country with the worst figures, 6 million cases and 183,500 deaths. Brazil follows with 3.8 million cases and 120,828 deaths.  Peru has had 647,166 patients and 28,800 deaths. Colombia, 608,000 cases and almost 19,363 deaths. Mexico 595,841 cases and 64,158 deaths; Chile, 411,726 cases and 11,289 deaths and Argentina has had over 408,000 cases and 8,498 deaths. 
  • Resistance, the movie by Venezuelan director Jonathan Jakubowicz, won the German Cinema Peace Prize, said on Monday the jury in Munich. The movie tells the story of the French resistance during WWII, inspired by the life of mime Marcel Marceau. Congratulations!

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.