Juan Requesens had been linked to the August 2018 assassination attempt against President Maduro.
August 30, 2020.- Opposition lawmaker Juan Requesens was released from prison on Friday.
After two years of detention, the Justice First (PJ) leader was transferred to house arrest. Requesens was arrested in August 2018 after being accused of participating in a terrorist attack in Caracas.
On August 4, 2018, two drones laden with explosives were detonated near the stage where President Nicolas Maduro was giving a speech. Venezuelan security services managed to disorient the drones and there were no casualties from the explosions.
After his arrest, Venezuelan authorities released a video where Requesens revealed he helped retired military officer Juan Carlos Monasterios cross the Colombia-Venezuela border on the orders of PJ leader Julio Borges. Monasterios had been one of the main figures behind the operation and was arrested shortly after the drone attacks, while an arrest warrant was issued for Borges, who has since resided in Bogota, Colombia, named international envoy by opposition leader Juan Guaido last year.
The Venezuelan government issued no comment on the release of Requesens, who spent two years detained in the Bolivarian Intelligence Services (SEBIN) headquarters in Caracas but was not formally charged.
The lawmaker has been one of the most hardline opposition figures. In a 2017 speech, he called for an “internal war” that would trigger a foreign intervention against Venezuela.
Grassroots movements protested the surprise move, denouncing his involvement in the violent “guarimba” street protests in 2017.
For their part, opposition leaders celebrated Requesens’ release. Self-proclaimed “Interim President” Juan Guaido wrote on Twitter that “house arrest is not freedom, but there will be justice.”
Requesens’ release comes on the heels of sharpening internal divisions within the opposition over upcoming legislative elections. Guaido, for his part, has announced a boycott and called on opposition leaders to join a “unitary path” to oust the Maduro government. However, high-profile figures have dissented from the plan.
Former two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles criticized Guaido for demanding more sacrifices of the Venezuelan people and called on voters to participate in the December elections. Meanwhile, hardline leader Maria Corina Machado announced that she could not reach an agreement with Guaido, and reiterated her support for a foreign intervention.
Featured image: Juan Requesens was a leading figure in the opposition’s violent street protests in 2014 and 2017. (Juan Barreto / AFP)