Opposition Leader Leopoldo Lopez Escapes Venezuela

Leopoldo Lopez – File photo Martin Mejia / AP

HAVANA TIMES – Key Venezuelan opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez exited the Spanish diplomatic compound in Caracas on Friday and fled the country. He had stayed at the embassy grounds for more than a year, reported dpa news.

“Today … Leopoldo Lopez leaves the Spanish embassy in Venezuela for international territory to promote new actions in the fight for the freedom of Venezuela,” Voluntad Popular (Popular Will), the party founded and led by Lopez, said in a statement.

“This decision … was made considering what’s best for the country and the fight for Venezuela’s freedom,” the statement continued.

“After seven years of persecution and unjust imprisonment within Venezuela, Leopoldo Lopez still doesn’t have total freedom. Just as all Venezuelans, as long as there is a dictatorship that violates the human rights of the people,” Voluntad Popular said.

Lopez tweeted a message to the Venezuelan public late Saturday.

“Venezuelans, this decision has not been easy, but rest assured that you have this servant to fight [for you] from any space. I will continue working day and night to achieve the freedom that all us Venezuelans deserve,” Lopez wrote.

Says new actions coming soon

The 49-year-old added that details of “the actions we propose to carry out” to achieve that goal would be shared “in the next few days.”

The Spanish Foreign Ministry confirmed that the opposition figure left the Spanish ambassador’s residence. He had been staying since April 2019, of his own will.

Several media outlets cited Lopez’ father Leopoldo Lopez Gil, who represents the conservative Spanish people’s party in the European Parliament. He said his son had secretly crossed the border into Colombia on Friday and was on the way to Spain.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who dozens of countries recognize as Venezuela’s interim president, said that Lopez escaped the country by “outwitting” President Nicolas Maduro’s “repressive aparatus.”

“Maduro, you control nothing,” said Guaido.

Lopez was jailed in 2014 after calling for protests against Maduro and was released into house arrest in 2017.

He was moved to house arrest in 2019, but fled to the Spanish diplomatic compound following a failed opposition uprising.

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