The Foro Penal Venezolano [Venezuelan Penal Forum] (FPV), a human rights NGO, announced today that nineindividuals were arrested today for political reasons, increasing the number of political prisoners to 244. FPV head Alfredo Romero said that eight of the individuals are members of the armed forces, while one is a civilian.

Romero is also aware of one of the prisoners’ names–the civilian–whom he identified as a man named Carlos Mora. He also said that six of the detainees are members of the National Guard, while one is a member of the air force.

One of the services that the FPV provides is legal representation for political prisoners. Given the authoritarian nature of the Maduro regime, this task is a difficult one, since individuals are often held without chargers, not brought to court in a timely fashion or at all, or processed through military tribunals under kafkaesque conditions.

Just three days ago, Maduro said during a speech that he was willing to release some political prisoners in the name of national unity and reconciliation. While he did not specify which of the country’s approximately 250 political prisoners would qualify for release, his speech was succeeded by the release of 20 political prisoners in Zulia state and one U.S. citizen, Joshua Holt.

Following the release of the political prisoners in from Zulia two days ago, Romero pointed out that it was “common” for the regime to make public gestures of reconciliation and to release a token number of prisoners for public relations reasons, while at the same time locking more up.

Trump Says Holt’s Case Was “Difficult”

Joshua Holt, the U.S. man who was released yesterday after nearly two years in captivity in Venezuela, met with president Trump and other government officials in the White House. Trump spoke on Holt’s release, and said that his case had been “difficult” to solve.

The video below shows the moment that Holt met his parents shortly after arriving in the U.S. Present also at the meeting is U.S. senator Orrin Hatch, who represents Holt’s home state of Utah:

In the video below, Trump speaks on Holt’s case while sitting beside him in the Oval Office:

Just before Holt arrived in the Oval Office, vice president Mike Pence spoke on what his release meant for Venezuela-U.S. relations. Pence clarified that the White House would continue to put pressure on the Maduro regime to turn away from authoritarianism, and that “sanctions would continue until democracy returns to Venezuela”.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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