Chavez Pardons Those Accused of Coup
While the Colombian government and Western media seem to be having a laugh at the expense of the 3 hostages and Hugo Chavez's sincere attempt to free them, Sr. Presidente phoned up the local TV station to announce this unempected act of New Year's forgiveness. Expect the lack of news out of Villavicencio (or news about Oliver Stone) to take higher media precedence. But this is quite a feat of turning the cheek, considering the seriousness of the crimes committed by the coup-mongers.
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Hugo Chavez granted amnesty Monday to those accused of involvement in a failed 2002 coup that briefly drove him from power.
Chavez said he signed an amnesty decree that would also pardon others accused in suspected attempts to overthrow the government or assassinate him. It was not immediately clear how many accused opponents would be affected by the amnesty.
"It's a matter of turning the page," Chavez said in a telephone call to state television on New Year's Eve. "We would like a country that moves toward peace."
Chavez read aloud the law, which grants amnesty to those who signed a decree recognizing the interim government that briefly took power during the 2002 coup. Chavez was ousted by dissident military officers, but within two days he was returned to the presidency loyalist generals amid protests by his supporters in the streets.
Opponents accused of violently taking over the state television channel would also fall under the amnesty, along with those who sought to violently sabotage oil tanker ships during an opposition-led strike that followed the coup.
He reiterated that regardless of the law, no one in Venezuela is jailed "for his political ideas."