The Maduro regime released 39 political prisoners today in a move that was foreshadowed last week by Maduro himself during a speech at the Constituent Assembly. The release of the prisoners capped a day marked by confusion and obscurity, as the Maduro regime did its best to make the move appear legal by its own standards.
Maikel Moreno, the chief magistrate of Venezuela’s supreme court, confirmed in a televised address in the early afternoon that a number of political prisoners had become “beneficiaries” of release measures.
News of the impending releases began to spread shortly before noon. Patricia Ceballos, the wife of a political prisoner named Daniel Ceballos, tweeted the following message at 11:25 AM this morning:
ATTENTION Venezuela SEBIN [the regime’s political police] officers have taken by husband @Daniel_Ceballos, we demand his full FREEDOM as well as that of ALL political prisoners
Ceballos–along with a group of 24 other political prisoners–were taken from the SEBIN’s headquarters in El Helicoide, Caracas, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs offices in the capital.
Ceballos was the mayor of San Cristobal, Tachira state when he was arrested in 2014 for allegedly refusing to stop anti-government protests from taking place in the city. Ceballos is a member of the Voluntad Popular (VP) opposition party.
The image below shows Ceballos, in white, at the moment of his release:
The video below shows Ceballos getting into a vehicle and driving away outside of the El Helicoide:
Another one of the released prisoners is Angel Vivas, a former army general who is an outspoken critic of the Maduro regime and of chavismo in general. Maduro accused Vivas of being responsible for the violent protests that shook the country in the early months of 2014. In 2017, Vivas was arrested and placed under SEBIN custody in El Helicoide.
The video below captured the moments shortly after Vivas, in pink, was released. Vivas tells the camera that he is barred from making statements to the media, but then lets out the phrase, “Down with tyranny! Long live freedom!”:
Gonzalo Himiob, a lawyer and one of the directors of the Foro Penal Venezolano [Venezuelan Penal Forum] (FPV) put the issue at the core of the release of the political prisoners succinctly in a tweet:
Releasing those who should never have been jailed is not a “benefit”, nor a “gift” nor a “favour”. Freedom is the rule, not the exception.
There are now 318 political prisoners in regime jails.
The full list of all 39 released prisoners can be found here.
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