Maduro opponent exits Chilean embassy in Caracas

Caracas (AFP) –


A political opponent of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro left the Chilean embassy in Caracas for the first time in three years Wednesday after being pardoned by the leftist leader.

Opposition lawmaker Freddy Guevara took refuge at the embassy in November 2017 after being charged with inciting months of anti-government street riots that left 125 people dead.

"I am coming out to say that I continue the struggle, but this time in the field, because I have the opportunity to do so," Guevara, 34, told reporters after leaving the embassy.

"I'm aware that I may not be able to do and say everything I want, but I am going to fight," vowed Guevara, a founding member of the Popular Will party headed by opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Guevara is also close to Leopoldo Lopez, who took refuge in the Spanish ambassador's residence in Caracas after leading a failed military uprising against Maduro in April last year.

Maduro pardoned more than 100 lawmakers and Guaido associates on August 31, saying he wanted to bring "reconciliation" to the deeply polarized South American country ahead of December legislative elections.

Lopez was not among those pardoned.

Guaido dismissed the reprieves as an attempt by Maduro to "legitimize a farce," referring to the elections, which the main opposition parties are boycotting.

Guaido's chief sponsor, the United States, also dismissed the pardons, saying Maduro continues to hold hundreds of political prisoners.

The US is one of more than 50 countries that recognize National Assembly leader Guaido as Venezuela's interim president.

The opposition argues the December 6 elections are rigged in favor of Maduro's ruling Socialist Party.