Chávez critic is paroled until trial over TV comments

By Dean Graber

Oswaldo Álvarez Paz, an outspoken Chávez opponent and former presidential candidate, had been in the intelligence service's custody since March 22 after saying in a TV interview that Venezuela had become a haven for drug trafficking. He was released from house arrest Thursday (May 14) and ordered not to leave Venezuela or speak about the case with reporters, AFP reports. He must present himself to the court every 15 days.

“Prosecutors formally charged him last week with inciting hatred and supplying false information, charges that can carry prison terms,” AFP explains. “They dropped a more serious charge of conspiracy that carried a possible sentence of eight to 16 years in prison.

See other news reports about Álvarez, in English and Spanish.

Alvarez is a former governor of his home state, Zulia, site of the Maracaibo basin, whose crude oil reserves are among the largest in the Americas.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.