Venezuela releases former spy chief who challenged Nicolás Maduro

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MIAMI (TBEN) — The Venezuelan government has freed a former spy chief of the late President Hugo Chávez, who served nearly five years in prison for leading a movement of disgruntled loyalists who had threatened the rule of Nicolás Maduro, the chosen successor. of the left firefighter, defied.

Miguel Rodríguez Torres left his homeland on Saturday to go into exile in Spain, according to someone close to Rodríguez Torres, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the release had not yet been announced by the Maduro government. He was accompanied by former Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who the person said had worked behind the scenes to secure Rodríguez Torres’ freedom.

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Rodríguez Torres is a former army major general with close ties within the Venezuelan military, which has traditionally been the arbiter of the country’s political disputes. He cut his teeth as a revolutionary stalwart by taking part in a failed 1992 coup led by Chávez, who was a tank commander at the time.

But he got in touch with Maduro by questioning the socialist leader’s stubborn adherence to the rigid exchange controls responsible for rising inflation and a collapsing currency.

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Rodríguez Torres was never embraced by Maduro’s traditionally conservative opponents, who despised him for cracking down on anti-government protests as interior minister in 2014.

Maduro, who unlike Chávez never served in the army, immediately saw him as a threat. In March 2018, he was taken away by agents of the Bolivarian intelligence agency he once commanded while giving a speech in a hotel ballroom calling for free and fair elections.

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He was later charged with multiple crimes, including treason and leading a barracks uprising. But he never admitted his guilt and spent most of the past five years in a military prison in Caracas.

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