Venezuelan opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez flees to Colombia

Venezuelan opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez flees to Colombia

“All of our time and energy will be of use to the people in the pursuit of freedom,” Lopez wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “Venezuelans, this decision was not easy, but rest assured that you have this servant to fight from anywhere.

“We will not rest and will continue to work day and night to achieve the freedom that all Venezuelans deserve.”

Few details were immediately available about how Lopez, the former mayor of the Caracas region, made his way to Colombia, the base of some anti-Maduro groups.

Guaido said in a tweet on Twitter that Lopez was in “international land”, but did not go into further details. “Maduro, you have no control over anything,” Guaido wrote, adding that the opposition had succeeded in “making fun of your repressive regime” by removing Lopez from the embassy.

An influential opposition figure, Maria Corina Machado, also confirmed that the 49-year-old Lopez was out of the country.

Machado: “I am very happy that Leopoldo Lopez can meet again with his family freely” chirp.

Two people with direct knowledge of Lopez’s whereabouts, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive opposition issue, said he was in Colombia.

Spanish news agency EFE, citing Lopez’s father, reported that Lopez will travel to Spain, where his wife and three children have been living since 2019.

Lopez’s escape, first reported by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, came six weeks before the Maduro-backed legislative elections that were denounced by the Venezuelan opposition.

The elections, scheduled for December 6, will expand the size of the National Assembly and may threaten Guaidó’s position as chamber president – a role he has used to bolster his political legitimacy.

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The United States and more than 50 other countries have recognized Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela after widespread accusations that Maduro falsified his re-election in 2018.

“Leopoldo needs to secure international support for Guaido,” said Nicmer Evans, a political analyst and former political prisoner. “Leopoldo needs to be present in the United States and Europe to keep Guaido recognized as the leader of Venezuela.”

Evans said Lopez also had a chance to “regain his leadership” and possibly play a higher role in opposing Maduro.

Lopez was arrested in 2014 and sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison after being found guilty of inciting anti-Maduro demonstrations. He was granted house arrest in 2017.

In April 2019, Lopez sought refuge in the Spanish embassy after he helped lead a failed attempt to urge the army to turn on Maduro.

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