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Confrontation looms in Venezuela over amnesty law

Published:Thursday | March 31, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Opponents of Venezuela's socialist administration are preparing for a fight over a congressional bid to give amnesty to activists the opposition considers political prisoners.

Venezuela's opposition-controlled congress passed legislation late Tuesday that would free dozens of people imprisoned in connection with opposing the socialist revolution launched 17 years ago by late President Hugo Chavez.

Supporters launched fireworks around the darkened city, and lawmakers joined families of the prisoners in cheering "freedom!" as the legislation was passed.

The legislation was a key campaign promise during the 2015 legislative race that gave the opposition control of congress for the first time in more than a decade.

President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday reiterated his determination stop the bill, and said it was an attempt to free murderers and terrorists.

"This law will not go into effect," he said. "Attempts to free terrorists and criminals cannot go through, do what they will."

Congress took up the bill without prior notice and approved it hours later, prompting Maduro to said the opposition bloc had used a sneaky fast track approach.