The Foro Penal Venezolano [Venezuelan Penal Forum] (FPV), a human rights NGO, announced today that the Maduro regime released 20 political prisoners in Zulia state today. The FPV’s director, Alfredo Romero, said that the releases were staggered throughout the day, with 14 individuals being released in the morning and the rest in the afternoon.
Gonazlo Himiob, the vice president of the FPV, clarified that the 20 individuals received conditional releases, meaning that they will have to appear in court regularly to update the authorities on their activities, and that any breach of the condition could see them returned to prison.
At least some of the released are also banned from leaving the country and from participating in protests.
Below, images of some of the released individuals in Zulia state today:
Romero stressed that Maduro has released political prisoners en masse in the past, as he did at the end of 2017 when 80 were let go; however, more tend to find themselves in regime jails in short order. Romero said:
It’s common now that, whenever political prisoners are released, soon others are arrested.
The release of the 20 individuals comes just a day after Maduro said that he would release political prisoners in the name of starting a dialogue with the opposition. During his speech at the Constituent Assembly yesterday, Maduro clarified that only political prisoners who had not committed “violent crimes or murders” would be released, but provided no more details.
There are still approximately 350 political prisoners in regime jails.
FPV: 40 Army Officers Arrested So Far in 2018
Himiob also said that 40 military officers have been arrested so far in 2018, and that 70 of the country’s political prisoners are members of the armed forces. Himiob said:
We’re talking about 40 detained armed forces members that we can identify by name between January 1 and May 24 alone.
Himiob also said that this year stands out among others under Maduro due to the large number of military arrests.
Romero also said that the FPV has received information that there may be an additional 60 armed forces members under detention by the Dirección de Contrainteligencia Militar [Military Counterintelligence Directorate] (DGCIM), a secretive wing of the armed forces and one of the regime’s most feared repressive forces. However, Romero was clear in pointing out that this information has yet to be verified:
We have to see if that’s true or not, verify it, because we’re talking about an important number of detainees there.
Maduro Meets U.S. Senator in Caracas
U.S. Senator Bob Corker met with Maduro in Caracas today in a rare encounter between a representative from Washington and the Venezuelan president. Senator Corker sits on the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations.
Below, an image showing Maduro and Corker shaking hands earlier today:
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, arguably the most outspoken legislator against the Maduro regime, reacted to today’s meeting by tweeting the following message:
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