Leopoldo López, probably the most symbolic figure of the Venezuelan opposition, left Venezuela this Saturday and left behind not only a trail of doubts about the circumstances of his departure and the stages of his trip. With that decision, the politician, who remained sheltered in the residence of the Spanish Embassy in Caracas since the uprising of April 30, 2019, also puzzled a good part of his followers. At the end of a day in which contradictory information about his whereabouts was exchanged, there were only two certainties. His final destination will be Madrid, where his family and his father reside, a member of the Popular Party, perhaps after a stopover in the United States as indicated by some opposition sources. And his flight opens a scenario full of unknowns for the strategy of the head of the legislature, Juan Guaidó, against the president, Nicolás Maduro.
The opposition leader published five messages on his Twitter account at night that have a mostly internal reading. In other words, López addressed the Venezuelans who at some point trusted him and the anti-Chavista militants to promise them that he would continue to fight from a "new terrain of struggle." That is, from abroad. International pressure against the Venezuelan government, exerted mainly by the United States, Latin American countries such as neighboring Colombia and to a lesser extent by the European Union, long ago became the main asset of the opposition to try to weaken the successor of Hugo Chávez .
"As always, from the streets with the people, or in a military jail, from an unjust court or persecuted in an embassy, all our time and energy will be to be useful to the Venezuelan people in the conquest of their freedom," wrote the former mayor of the Caracas municipality of Chacao, referring to its recent past. In 2014 he was arrested on charges of encouraging a wave of protests that got out of control and left more than 40 dead. He spent three years in the Ramo Verde military prison, until in July 2017 the justice, controlled by Chavismo, granted him the measure of house for jail, that is, house arrest. In this mediation, the former president of the Spanish Government José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero played a relevant role. Almost two years later, on April 30, 2019, he was released with the help of some soldiers and the head of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin), Christopher Figuera, in a frustrated attempt at a riot. He then asked for refuge in the residence of the Spanish ambassador, Jesús Silva. Until today.
"From this new terrain of struggle, we will continue to unfailingly fulfill the responsibilities assigned as commissioner for the Government Center of the Interim Government of Venezuela," López continued. The team made up of Guaidó as an alternative to the Maduro Executive, with a structure almost parallel to the state apparatus, nevertheless has only symbolic scope. The president has not lost power de facto and, after several unsuccessful attempts to overthrow him, the opposition fell into a dead end while its rank and file had to face the frustration of an imminent change that has not occurred. Now the main forces refuse to participate in the legislative elections called for December 6 and questioned by the main international bodies for lack of guarantees.
Pessimism grew in the midst of the pandemic and several leaders, who in many cases had to go into exile like López to avoid persecution by the regime, are aware that in the short term a transition is rather a mirage. However, neither Guaidó, whose wear has accelerated in recent months, nor López want to show signs of anxiety. Thus, the second assured that "under the leadership" of the head of Parliament "and in coordination with the National Assembly, the democratic unity and international allies of our struggle" a solution will be found. "We are sure that Venezuela will be free and democratic," he said.
“Venezuelans, this decision has not been easy,” López continued, adding: “But rest assured that you have this server to fight from any space.” Guaidó took advantage of López's departure to boast that the forces of security monitored by the Embassy of Spain failed to stop him. The Government has not yet made an official statement, while the number two of Chavismo, Diosdado Cabello, limited himself to disqualifying him, calling him a "thief", during a public act.