CARACAS – Venezuelan authorities granted freedom to ex-presidential candidate Manuel Rosales, jailed since Oct. 15, 2015, for suspected unlawful enrichment while governor of the western Venezuelan state of Zulia.
“I announce to the Venezuelan people that I have been released together with other political prisoners,” Rosales said on Twitter.
Eveling Trejo, Rosales’s wife and mayor of Maracaibo in Zulia state, also wrote on Twitter: “The divine justice of our Lord has been carried out. Thanks be to God for giving freedom to my husband @manuelrosalesg!”
In addition, Venezuelan lawmaker Delsa Solorzano, a member of the opposition UNT party founded by Rosales, said Saturday on Twitter that “several political prisoners” had been released, including “Nixon Leal, Angel Contreras, Yeimi Varela, Gerado Carrero, Scarli Duarte, Leocenis Garcia and Manuel Rosales.”
Garcia, a journalist and owner of the Sexto Poder publishing group, who had been accused of assorted crimes by Venezuelan authorities, thanked the opposition for its “efforts” at the dialogue table with the Nicolas Maduro government since October to obtain his release.
Venezuelan NGO Foro Penal chief Alfredo Romero said, also on Twitter, that one of the conditions imposed by the government on the prisoners who have been released is that they not leave the country and appear in court.
Rosales, 64, arrived in Venezuela on Oct. 15 after six years of self-exile after an arrest order was issued for him on corruption charges in 2009, three years after he lost the presidential election to the late Hugo Chavez, who governed from 1999-2013.
He was arrested as soon as he disembarked from the plane that brought him back to Venezuela from Aruba.
Meanwhile, the opposition MUD alliance called the release of Rosales and the other former “political prisoners” a “positive step.”
“The immense majority of Venezuelans want to live in democracy and there is no democracy with political prisoners ... Any release of political prisoners is a positive step, a step in the right direction, a step along the road to dismantling revenge and rebuilding coexistence,” the alliance said in a statement.
The coalition said that 126 people remain incarcerated for political reasons in Venezuela and they should be “on the streets” rather than behind bars since “none of them has committed any crime.”