Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has left the country after serving six years in prison, house arrest and diplomatic asylum, his political party has said.
Lopez, 49, left the Spanish embassy in Caracas and headed for an undisclosed international destination, according to his political party and Spain’s foreign ministry. He had sought refuge at the residence of the Spanish ambassador in April 2019 after leading a failed military coup against the government.
Lopez, a former U.S.-educated mayor, is one of the strongest opponents of Venezuela’s dictator Nicolas Maduro. He tried to overthrow it through street protests and palace plots. His maximum tactics, which dismantled the opposition and became more irrelevant to the struggles of the Venezuelans during the deepest recession in modern history, went backwards.
In early 2019, Mr. Lopez reached his goal. When young legislator Juan Guido declared himself interim president of the country, he cited Maduro’s fraudulent re-election. He was quickly supported by the United States and most European and Latin American countries, which cut off government from the global economy.
Maduro, meanwhile, faced this challenge, using his control over the security forces to gradually suppress the opposition and intimidate supporters. As Venezuela’s political crisis intensifies, sanctions imposed by the Trump administration to help Guide’s bid for power plunge the already rapidly shrinking Venezuelan economy and its people into a complete humanitarian crisis.
Lopez became the latest opposition leader to go into exile. Guide was more isolated. Guide’s term as Speaker of Parliament is based on his claim to the leadership of the country, which ends in January, threatening to leave the opposition without final support.
Lopez’s party Popular Will said it had promised Guide unconditional support and would continue to fight Maduro for torture, extrajudicial killings and legal torture to stay in power.
“Like other Venezuelans, Leopoldo Lopez is not completely free as long as there is a dictatorship that violates the human rights of the people,” his party said in a statement on Saturday.
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