Cancer-stricken Chavez softens on opposition prisoners

July 20, 2011 22:54


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CARACAS - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, humbled by a cancer that has upended the OPEC nation's politics, has set clemency proceedings in motion for convicted opposition activists suffering from health problems.

Chavez on Saturday called for humanitarian measures to help infirm opposition prisoners, which include three convicted of involvement in a coup against him.

The gesture has brought some hope his cancer will moderate his confrontational style even if it does little to bridge the divide between Chavez's self-styled revolution and critics who call him an fledgling dictator.

But his apparent ability to free dozens of prisoners with a few words uttered in a live broadcast may revive criticisms that he controls the country's justice system.

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