Early on saturday opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was transferred from Ramo Verde Jail to his residence after 3 years in prison
The transfer came as a big surprise for Venezuelans and was justified by the government as a humanitarian gesture due to Lopez’s health issues. A big crowd took to the streets in celebration and those near the municipality of Chacao, in eastern Caracas, marched to his house to show their support.
Freddy Guevara, an opposition lawmaker and prominent political figure, stated, “This is a step toward freedom, not just Leopoldo’s, but also a step that brings all Venezuelans closer to freedom”. Jared Genser, one of Lopez’s lawyer, affirmed his client’s release was a unilateral concession by the government. Also, Henrique Capriles, last election’s presidential candidate, publicly specified, "he must be given his full liberty together with all political prisoners".
So far, most governments have praised Lopez’s transfers, and Luis Almagro, head of the Organization of American States (OAS), assured the court's decision offered an opportunity for national reconciliation
Many Venezuelans, local and expats, have reservations about this; most of them, which do not support Maduro’s regime, believe there is more to the government’s intentions than what they are letting on and want to remind the media that Leopoldo is at home but he is still not free. Lopez could probably be sent back to Ramo Verde, as he was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Javier Cremades tweeted, “Giving Leopoldo Lopez house arrest shows how desperate and divided they are”. Cremades called the move “a sign of the weakness of a regime that is cornered.”
The image of the day was Lopez holding and unfurling a Venezuelan flag, bringing it to his lips to kiss it and then holding it in his fist as a sign of defiance.
Although the terms of his confinement are not yet known, usually they are not allowed to speak to the press or towards crowds.
Only time will tell if this is a first step towards normality or just a power play for the government.
LAtinAmerican Post | Ricardo Avella
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto