Venezuela frees ex-presidential candidate, 5 other dissidents

1 Jan 2017

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro today released six dissidents, among them former presidential candidate Manuel Rosales, who had been under house arrest for more than two months, opposition leaders said. "I have been freed, along with other political prisoners," Rosales, 64, wrote on Twitter following his release. Opposition groups said that those freed in addition to Rosales were Skarlyn Duarte, Yeimi Varela, Nixon Leal, Angel Contreras and Gerardo Carrero. They were arrested during 2014 protests calling for the removal of Maduro from power. Rosales was detained on October 19 after returning to Venezuela following six years of exile.

"We will continue to fight for the liberation of everyone," Rosales wrote on Twitter. A former lawmaker, mayor of the northwestern city of Maracaibo and two-time governor of the state of Zulia, Rosales challenged then-president Hugo Chavez in elections held in 2006. Dissident leaders had demanded his release, and freedom for the other opposition leaders, during negotiations with the government to ease Venezuela's long-running political and economic crisis. (AFP)