Under Growing International Pressure, Maduro Releases More Venezuelan Political Prisoners

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Venezuela on Friday began releasing a group of opposition activists jailed for protesting against President Nicolas Maduro, a move that the government said would foster dialogue but that critics dismissed as a token gesture by a dictatorship.

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 doors are open to those who choose the path of peace and reconciliation", Maduro tweeted.

Rodriguez was speaking at a ceremony marking the release, where she was flanked by Attorney General Tarek William Saab and three opposition governors who she said had "initiated a process of dialogue" with Maduro, but gave no details.

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Maduro was recently re-elected to another six-year term in an election marred by widespread irregularities.

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

The issue of the prisoners has been a sticking point during reconciliation talks, and opposition leader Laidy Gomez said discussions with Maduro a day prior were focused on ending political persecution.

Venezuela's Truth and Justice Commission, which was created to investigate violence stemming from anti-government protests and bring those responsible to justice, was in charge of reviewing cases eligible for pardon.

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Many had taken part in protests against Mr Maduro in 2014 and again in 2017; about 170 people died in clashes.

"Right now the government is staging a political show with the release of prisoners, but in Venezuela all Venezuelans are prisoners", said legislator Tomas Guanipa.

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. "The battle goes on for all the other separated families, for Venezuela, for a better future".

He was one of two popular rivals to Maduro who were barred from standing as candidates in the May 20 election.

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While released, Ceballos cannot leave Venezuela and he is banned from talking to the media or commenting on social media, according to the court.

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