Venezuela frees more anti-Maduro activists

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro releases 39 political prisoners after talks with Opposition leader

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday reaffirmed his willingness to dialogue with political opponents, as long as they reject violence.

On Friday, the government released the prisoners, which included former San Cristobal mayor and opposition politician Daniel Ceballos, because it is moving "away from hate and intolerance", Constituent Assembly President Delcy Rodriguez said in a speech in Caracas, according to Bloomberg.

The government of President Nicolas Maduro has said the release of jailed activists is meant to foster dialogue.

"They clear out a cell, and then they fill it with new people", Romero said, calling it Venezuela's "revolving door".

Ceballos was one of several inmates who in May briefly took over a part of the Helicoide in protest ahead of the election that saw Maduro win a second term.

The Venezuelan "government is greatly ready for a frank, honest and constructive dialogue", Maduro said in a tweet early Friday before the announcement.

Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez told a press conference that Maduro hopes his decision to release the prisoners "will lead to a process of pacification".

Human rights groups say that even after this round of releases, more than 300 political prisoners remained illegally jailed in Venezuela.

Some of the prisoners had been punished for protesting against Maduro's government in the last four years.

In May, Maduro's government freed 20 people who were arrested during protests against widespread blackouts and Utah man Joshua Holt, who was jailed almost two years ago on weapons charges that US officials considered bogus.

That may be easier said than done for the families of more than 368 political prisoners now detained in Venezuela, according to the human rights organization Foro Penal, or Penal Forum. "The battle goes on for all the other separated families, for Venezuela, for a better future".

Among the conditions set upon Ceballos, he must present himself in court every 30 days and is prohibited from leaving the country or making any statements to the media or on social media platforms. He was accused of inciting big anti-government street protests and sentenced to almost 14 years in prison. Venezuela's leading opposition parties boycotted the vote and two of their most popular leaders were barred from running in the election.

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