The Maduro regime has continued to release political prisoners over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number since Saturday to 44. The full list of released individuals as of 6:00 PM tonight can be seen here.
Alfredo Romero, the head of the Foro Penal Venezolano (FPV)–a human rights NGO–pointed out today that the individuals who have been released so far only amount to 16% of all political prisoners in regime jails. He also argued that the reason why the prisoners are being released is not due to a benevolent drive from the regime, but rather a self-interested. Romero explained:
The government is interested in reducing the number of political prisoners in order to lower the cost that they represent. There are still 227 political prisoners [in Venezuela], the highest such figure of any Christmas.
Canada Fires Back, Expels Venezuelan Ambassador from Ottawa
Two days after the Maduro regime expelled the Canadian charge d’affaires in Caracas, the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has retaliated by kicking his Venezuelan counterpart in Canada out of the country and by barring the Venezuelan ambassador from returning to Canada.
The expelled Venezuelan charge d’affairs in Ottawa is named Angel Herrera. The Venezuelan ambassador to Canada, Wilmer Omar Barrientos Fernandez, has not been in Canada since October, when he was recalled to Caracas as a form of protest.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called the expulsion of the Canadian charge d’affairs, Craig Kowalik, “typical of the Maduro regime”.
On Ottawa’s decision to expel Herrera and ban Barrientos from returning, Freeland said:
Canadians will not stand by as the Government of Venezuela robs its people of their fundamental democratic and human rights, and denies them access to basic humanitarian assistance.
Freeland also stressed that Canada would continue to work towards restoring democratic order in Venezuela following the Maduro regime’s hard turn towards authoritarianism throughout the year. Freeland said:
We will continue to work with our partners in the region … to apply pressure on the anti-democratic Maduro regime and restore the rights of the Venezuelan people.
The Lima Group–a group of twelve nations including Canada that is working towards finding a peaceful solution to the Venezuelan crisis–will meet in Chile in January. Their last meeting, back in October, took place in Toronto.
Freeland’s full statement on the expulsions can be found here.
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