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Venezuela's opposition approves amnesty law

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Venezuela's opposition-controlled national assembly has approved an amnesty law to free dozens of jailed politicians and activists, but which is expected to be vetoed by President Nicolás Maduro.

When the opposition coalition swept to power in legislative elections in December, it vowed to free jailed politician Leopoldo López, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison on charges of inciting violence, sparking worldwide criticism that his jail term was politically motivated.

Maduro lobbied against passage of the bill, saying it protected criminals, and stated in a nationally televised speech, while the amnesty was still being debated, that it would not be passed.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, a demonstration against a bus fare hike in the city of San Cristóbal, Táchira state, resulted in the death of two police officers, local and international media reported. More than 30 people were arrested while protesting against the increase, which doubled the price of bus tickets.

Venezuela's social conflict observatory cites increasing protests in recent months, as the local population struggles with a food shortage, electric energy and water crisis, and rampant inflation.

Last week, the Maduro administration extended the Easter holiday by three work days in order to limit electricity and water demand across the country. It has also been implementing rationing.

In February, the national assembly declared a "nutritional emergency" in the country, saying there was not enough food to feed the entire population. The measure sought to push for increasing imports of food.

Police and military officers collect evidence at the scene of the San Cristóbal protest. (CREDIT: AFP)

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