Venezuela Releases Journalist and Four Political Prisoners

Published: 23 October 2023

Gerardo Blyde VenezuelaVenezuelan journalist Roland Carreño (L), with Gerardo Blyde (R) on the photo, was one of journalist released following the agreement between the government and opposition parties. (Photo: Gerardo Blyde/X, License)

By Lieth Carrillo

Among the released individuals is Roland Carreño, a Venezuelan journalist known for his critical stance against President Nicolás Maduro's government. Carreño was arrested in Caracas in October 2020 by the Bolivarian National Police (PNB) on charges of alleged money laundering, financing terrorism, criminal conspiracy, and illegal trafficking of war weapons.

Reporters Without Borders had previously decried the harsh conditions of Carreño's detention and the lack of due process, resulting in the interruption of his trial and its restart from scratch three years after his initial arrest. The organization accused the Maduro government of using the judiciary to stifle dissenting voices in the country and called for all charges against the journalist to be dropped.

Another individual released, Marco Antonio Garcés Carapaica, was detained in September 2020 while traveling in a car to Coro, the capital of Falcón State. A U.S. citizen was also in the car, and all occupants were subsequently accused of planning an attack on Venezuela's oil industry and electrical system.

Juan Requesens, a former deputy accused of involvement in the 2018 assassination attempt against Nicolás Maduro, was also among those released. He had been in detention for four years and was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2022.

The two women released, Eurinel Rincón and Mariana Barreto, faced imprisonment for different reasons. Rincón, an official of the Ministry of Defense, was arrested in 2021 for taking a photo with an opposition leader. Mariana Barreto was arrested in 2019 for protesting irregularities in gasoline supply in the state of Trujillo.

This release marks the first time political prisoners have been freed since the signing of an agreement between the government and Venezuelan opposition leaders in Barbados on Tuesday. The accord includes commitments to provide candidates with access to both public and private media, ensure their free and secure movement throughout the country, update voter registries, and invite international observers to monitor the upcoming election.

The United States has welcomed this agreement as a positive step toward democracy. In response, certain licenses have been issued to enable transactions related to Venezuela's oil and gas sector and gold sector.