Venezuela: Leopoldo López takes refuge in the Spanish Embassy in Caracas | International

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The Spanish Government confirmed this Wednesday that the Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo LopezTogether with his wife, Lilian Tintori, and his daughter —the couple has another daughter and a son— they are at the Spanish Embassy in Caracas. As reported by the Executive of Pedro Sánchez, the three are hosted at the residence of the Spanish ambassador, Jesús Silva Fernández. The ambassador's home constitutes inviolable territory, like embassies and consulates, so the Venezuelan politician cannot be detained there. López has not applied for political asylum, as confirmed by Spanish government sources.

The situation of Leopoldo López puts Spain in diplomatic trouble, which has not broken relations with the Nicolás Maduro regime, but has recognized Guaidó as the president in charge of calling elections. After first going to the Chilean embassy in Caracas, López and his family have expressed their desire to stay in the Spanish legation and the Executive of Pedro Sánchez has given its approval to that transfer. Despite the crisis unleashed in Venezuela and its repercussions in Spain, the Foreign Minister, Josep Borrell, has maintained his work schedule, which this Wednesday included a trip to Jordan, in whose capital he has already landed.

López, one of the opposition leaders most singled out by Chavismo, who was serving house arrest since July 2017 for a conviction for incitement to violence, was released on Tuesday by a group of Venezuelan military members related to the interim president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó. The clashes unleashed between Chavista government forces and opponents on Tuesday injured about a hundred people. Both Guaidó and the Government of Nicolás Maduro have called to take to the streets again this Wednesday.

The Chilean Foreign Minister, Roberto Ampuero, was the first to report on these movements. "Lilian Tintori and her daughter entered the residence of our diplomatic mission in Caracas as guests. Minutes ago her spouse, Leopoldo López, joined," Ampuero said in a tweet.

Hours later, Alberto Ravell, head of the National Communication Center, which acts as Guaidó's press office, reported on Twitter that Leopoldo López had not requested asylum from the Government of Chile and was no longer in the diplomatic residence. ANDAmpuero himself added to the same social network: "Lilian Tintori and Leopoldo López (of Spanish descent) moved to the Embassy of Spain. It is a personal decision, considering that our Embassy already had guests."

Free from house arrest

Leopoldo Lopez He explained after his release that the military in charge of monitoring his house arrest had decided to turn their back on Maduro and support Guaidó. The opposition leader obtained the benefit of "house for jail" in July 2017 to purge his sentence to almost 14 years for inciting violence in the opposition revolts of 2014.

Economist, graduated from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, with a master's degree in Public Policy from Harvard University, Leopoldo López Mendoza was born in Caracas on April 29, 1971. In 2000 he founded, together with Julio Borges, Henrique Capriles Radonski, Carlos Ocariz and other young leaders Primero Justicia, one of the symbols of the opposition to the Chávez government. He then won a comfortable victory as mayor of the municipality of Chacao, one of the upper-middle-class jurisdictions in Caracas and one of the country's opposition strongholds.

López is the leader of Voluntad Popular, a party founded in 2009. Despite his family's conservative and wealthy origins and the influences of his training, the politician insisted on endowing his party with a social democratic identity as an alternative to Chavismo.

The opposition leader was arrested in February 2014 and sentenced in September 2015 to serve a sentence of almost 14 years in prison on charges of association to commit a crime, instigation and destruction of public property. He was confined in Ramo Verde until his house arrest.

Spain has granted nationality to López's parents – the PP has recently signed Leopoldo López, father of the opposition, to go on the lists for the European elections on May 26 – and other relatives of his and welcomes other opposition leaders, like the former Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma, who fled Venezuela, and the activist Lorent Saleh, who was released.

Demonstrations on Labor Day

Guaidó on Tuesday called "all of Venezuela" to take to the streets coinciding with the celebration of May Day in a "peaceful rebellion" to overthrow the Maduro government. The interim president asked Venezuelans to demonstrate to achieve the "cessation of the usurpation" that, he considers, Maduro makes of the presidency.

Precisely Maduro, in his first message after the release of López and after declaring the "coup skirmish" defeated, urged to continue with the "active resistance", calling on Venezuelans to star in "a millionaire mobilization" on the occasion of Workers' Day .

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