CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s opposition is petitioning President Hugo Chavez’s government for a Christmas amnesty for more than 100 of his enemies in exile and jail.
Here are some of the main cases:
MARIA LOURDES AFIUNI
Afiuni, a judge, has been in jail since the end of 2009, when she drew Chavez’s wrath by freeing a banker, Eligio Cedeno, who had been accused of subverting currency controls.
Afiuni argued she had no option but to free Cedeno, who then fled to the United States, because his right to a free trial was being violated. On national TV, Chavez called her a “bandit” and demanded a 30-year prison sentence for her.
After initially being jailed, the 48-year-old is now under house arrest while her trial slowly proceeds. She says she was beaten, raped and had an abortion at a women’s prison in 2010.
Local police chief Simonovis, and other officers, were accused of involvement in a confused shootout during street protests that led to a brief coup against Chavez in 2002. More than a dozen people died.
After lengthy proceedings, Simonovis was given a 30-year jail sentence in 2009. Ten other officers were convicted.
The 51-year-old suffers osteoporosis and needs an urgent transfer to hospital, according to supporters, who say he is held in a tiny cell without daylight and only allowed out for one hour a week.
Economist Carmona was leader of Venezuela’s largest business chamber, Fedecamaras, which played a prominent role in anti-Chavez opposition protests during the 2002 coup.
Carmona briefly took the presidency, abolishing the Chavez-inspired 1999 constitution and cancelling oil supplies to Cuba, but his rule only lasted a day before military loyalists and giant street protests helped propel Chavez back to power.
The now 71-year-old Carmona was jailed for “rebellion” but escaped after he was later put under house arrest. He took asylum in Colombia, where he teachers at various universities.
Veteran politician Rosales, a former governor of oil-rich Zulia state, ran unsuccessfully against Chavez in the 2006 presidential race.
In 2009, when he was mayor of Zulia’s capital, Maracaibo, he was accused of corruption by the government and fled to Peru, where he was granted asylum.
Rosales, 59, says the case was a political vendetta and that a court had been instructed to give him a 30-year sentence. Chavez had threatened to imprison him several times during the 2006 campaign.
A former army general who became defense minister under Chavez, the 57-year-old Baduel had helped restore the president to power during the 2002 unrest.
But he broke with his boss in 2007 and began campaigning against him, then was arrested on corruption charges in 2009. He is serving an eight-year sentence for illicit enrichment while minister.
Baduel says the accusations against him were politically motivated due to his opposition to a 2007 constitutional reform proposed by Chavez.
A two-month strike by workers at state oil company PDVSA in 2002 almost crippled Venezuela’s vital crude industry. The workers were demanding Chavez’s resignation, but the president fired some 15,000 employees, accusing them of sabotage.
Following the strike, which polarized Venezuelan politics more than ever before, lots of the former workers - among them many from middle management - emigrated to countries including the United States, Colombia and Spain.
A decade on, the government has indicted scores of those workers for their role in the strike, threatening them with large fines that many of the former employees - especially those still living in Venezuela - say they are unable to pay.
Reporting by Diego Ore; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Doina Chiacu
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