Venezuela’s government has released opposition politician Edgar Zambrano from custody four months after his arrest on treason charges.
The country’s Attorney General Tarek William Saab said on Tuesday the government requested the release following “a partial agreement … with [certain] sectors of the national opposition.”
But Zambrano’s case remains open. The legislator is expected to appear before the court every 30 days, and he is forbidden from leaving the country, a statement by the Supreme Court said.
After his release, Zambrano called for the release of other political prisoners, including four colleagues.
“This [was] practically a kidnapping. I was captured in the middle of the night, by men who never identified themselves, with no order for capture, with no order from the republic, and in contravention of my political rights,” Zambrano said.
“Today, having been released, I call for and demand the release of political prisoners, civilian and military. I demand democracy for my country,” he added.
Guaido went on Twitter and said this achievement was a result of the international pressure.
“The liberation of Zambrano and political prisoners is a victory of citizen and international pressure, and the Bachelet report – not a ‘kind gesture’ from the dictatorship.”
Venezuela has been immersed in a deep political crisis since January, when Guaido assumed an interim presidency, saying the May 2018 presidential elections were undermined by fraud and hence invalid.
Guaido has been backed by dozens of western countries and their regional allies.
According to a July report by High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, nearly 800 people have been arrested arbitrarily as of May 31.
The release also came a day after the government said that its legislators would return to the opposition-controlled National Assembly following a three-year boycott.
The announcement followed a message by Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez who said the government and several minor opposition parties, headed by Deputy Timoteo Zambrano, struck a “peace deal”.
“This shows the absolute disposition of President Nicolas Maduro to keep all the doors open,” Rodriguez added. As part of the agreement, the government also agreed to evaluate alternatives to “the privation of liberty” for some prisoners, and the reform of the National Electoral Commission.
On Tuesday, the National Assembly in a vote reaffirmed Guaido’s leadership, while he dismissed the deal struck by the minority parties.
“The only legitimate power recognised by the international community is the National Assembly,” Guaido said. “Everything else is artificial, created to distract public attention.”
Over the weekend, the opposition leader also announced that the dialogue mediated by Norway reached an end, an announcement that came six weeks after Maduro’s government suspended its participation.
“After more than 40 days during which he refused to continue, we can confirm that the Barbados [dialogue] mechanism has ended,” Guaido said.
Luis Vicente Leon, an analyst and economist with the Caracas-based Datanalisis firm said the release did not mean progress for the ongoing political and economic crisis.
“The agreement between the government and an opposition minority, without international validation, or integration with the institutional group, does not rescue trust, nor does it make sanctions more flexible, nor does it reinstitutionalise the country,” Leon wrote on Twitter.
“You can get some concessions, but it [effectively] allows the government to buy time,” he added.
The UN estimates that four million people have already left Venezuela in recent years, fleeing hyperinflation, insecurity and scarcity of medicine and food.