The Venezuelan government says that dozens of members of the opposition have been pardoned. According to Information Minister Rodriguez, at least 110 people are on the list. Among them are twenty opposition members who were previously suspected of conspiracy against President Maduro.
Among the people pardoned are politician Freddy Guevara, who applied for asylum in the house of the Chilean ambassador, and Roberto Marrero. He was the right-hand man of Juan Guaidó, the man who proclaimed himself interim president in January 2019 and is considered by many countries to be the rightful president.
Some of the people on the list are in prison, but there are also people living in exile or in hiding. The names of prominent opposition leaders such as Leopoldo Lopez and Julio Borges are not on the list.
What the Venezuelan government intends to do with the action is not clear. In three months’ time, Venezuela will have the legislative elections, which Maduro said will continue anyway, despite the corona crisis. In a few days the deadline for candidates to apply is set.
The opposition threatened to boycott the elections at the beginning of this month. They said they did not want to participate in an election whose results are already known and which will put President Maduro back in the saddle.
The parliament, the National Assembly, is controlled by the opposition, but Maduro has set up its own parliament with supporters of its party. Maduro also wants to gain a majority in the National Assembly with the elections.
Yesterday the joint opposition parties and Guaidó met, but the parties said they had not agreed on the strategy. Guaidó is said to have proposed a referendum, while another opposition leader, Mariá Corina Machado, wants to get rid of Maduro’s government as soon as possible.
Human rights groups have strongly criticised the Venezuelan government in the past for imprisoning opposition politicians. Often the accusations against them are based on little or even no evidence and violate Venezuelan law.
In the past, the Maduro government has more often released small groups of arrested opposition leaders. The government strongly denies that political prisoners have been arrested and says that the allegations are part of American attempts to destroy Venezuela.
Venezuela is sighing under the corona crisis and a severe economic crisis. The country is totally ruined by years of mismanagement. The economy has collapsed and oil production, an important pillar of the state budget, is largely at a standstill. Furthermore, the country was largely shut down by the corona- pandemic.