Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 18 September 2019

Venezuela frees opposition politician before UN rights chief visit

Gilber Caro, 45, had been in custody since his arrest by intelligence agents on April 26

Venezuelan opposition politician Gilber Caro speaks during an interview with Reuters in Caracas, Venezuela June 12, 2018 in this still image taken from a video. Reuters
Venezuelan opposition politician Gilber Caro speaks during an interview with Reuters in Caracas, Venezuela June 12, 2018 in this still image taken from a video. Reuters

Venezuela on Monday freed an opposition legislator who spent almost two months behind bars, parliament announced, ahead of a visit by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

Gilber Caro, 45, had been in custody since his arrest by intelligence agents on April 26 for unclear reasons.

"The deputy Gilber Caro never should have been imprisoned. Today he is out from behind bars but like all Venezuelans still has no freedom," the National Assembly said on Twitter.

Venezuela is caught in an economic crisis and a political standoff between President Nicolas Maduro's government and National Assembly leader Juan Guaido.

The opposition leader, Mr Guaido, declared himself interim president earlier this year, and has been recognized by the United States and more than 50 other countries.

Mr Guaido's opposition-controlled assembly has effectively been sidelined by a separate body, the pro-Maduro Constituent Assembly.

Ms Bachelet's office said she will meet both Mr Maduro and Mr Guaido during her trip lasting from Wednesday to Friday.

She will also hold talks with civil society leaders and "victims of human rights violations and abuses," the UN rights office said.

Ms Bachelet, a former president of Chile, has been critical of Mr Maduro's crackdown on opponents, particularly of the excessive force used by the security services in response to legitimate protests.

She has also criticised US sanctions against Mr Maduro's government, cautioning that they were exacerbating the crisis and possibly hurting "people's basic rights and well-being."

The oil-rich country is suffering from hyperinflation and shortages of basic goods from food to medicine, a crisis that has forced millions to flee.

Mr Caro was arrested just before a failed April 30 uprising when Guaido appeared surrounded by about 30 military personnel.

Clashes between protesters and security forces left several people dead and the Supreme Court has charged at least 14 National Assembly deputies with involvement and branded them as traitors.

One of them is Mr Guaido's deputy Edgar Zambrano, who is in custody.

Mr Caro was previously arrested in January 2017 on accusations of plotting an armed revolt against Maduro but was freed 17 months later without being convicted.

Updated: June 18, 2019 08:39 AM

SHARE

SHARE