Venezuela said on Monday it has pardoned more than 50 opposition politicians including 20 legislators who had mostly been accused of conspiring against President Nicolas Maduro, as the country heads toward parliamentary elections scheduled for December.
The effort signals that the ruling Socialist Party is looking for to spice up participation in the upcoming vote, which a part of the opposition had vowed to boycott on the grounds that it is rigged.
Those pardoned include legislator Freddy Guevara, who sought asylum in the residence of the Chilean ambassador, in addition to Roberto Marrero, who had served as chief of staff to opposition leader and congress chief Juan Guaido.
“We are hoping that each one of these measures taken by the Bolivarian government help deal with the democratic focus of all of these political actors,” Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said in a press convention.
Rights groups have harshly criticized Venezuela’s government for arbitrarily jailing adversaries, continuously on charges made with little or no evidence and in violation of basic due process and parliamentary immunity of legislators.
Maduro’s government has prior to now released small groups of jailed opposition leaders, but those releases have in most cases been followed by more such arrests.
The government denies holding political prisoners and says such accusations are a part of US-backed efforts to tarnish its image.