The Sebin (Bolivarian Intelligence Service) patrols that for more than a year have guarded the residence of the Spanish ambassador in Caracas, Jesús Silva, have not moved. The zeal with which they have taken care of the farm where for 18 months the opponent of Chavismo Leopoldo López was protected, after on April 30, 2019 he managed to remove the electronic shackle with which he remained under house arrest, remains and has gone further there. Leopoldo López's abandonment of the diplomatic residence was followed this Saturday by a night of raids and arrests. The Venezuelan opponent arrived in Madrid this Sunday, where he was reunited with his wife Lilian Tintori, their three children and his father, MEP Leopoldo López Gil.
Intelligence service officials took Nubia Campos, a close collaborator of the politician from his time as mayor of Chacao, from his home, who for years was in charge of preparing food for the well-known Techo Program for street people. The woman cooked for López during his stay at the Embassy. The arrest of two bodyguards linked to López and his wife, Lilian Tintori, was also reported. They were searched at their residences in the Caricuao area, west of Caracas. Six private guards who worked in the diplomatic facilities and the company's coordinator were also arrested, although they were released throughout Sunday. At noon on Sunday, the whereabouts of these people and the reasons for which they were arrested were unknown.
After 10 o'clock on Saturday night, a Sebin command raided an apartment building in eastern Caracas, where part of the security personnel of the Spanish diplomatic residence lives, without court orders. They searched the homes in search of López, according to sources from the Embassy.
The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected the action of the Venezuelan police. "Spain condemns the arrests of labor personnel from its Embassy as well as the searches produced in the homes of personnel attached to it, acts that imply a breach of the obligations contained in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations," said the Foreign Ministry in a statement .
López's party, Voluntad Popular, also rejected the arrests of the collaborators of its national coordinator and demanded the release of those arrested. One of the first reactions to López's escape came from Juan Guaidó, an opposition leader and president of the National Assembly, who boasted of the lack of control of the Nicolás Maduro regime. “By circumventing your repressive apparatus, we managed to get our Commissioner for the Center of Government, Leopoldo López, to international territory. His contribution for Venezuela continues from this new space of action ", tweeted Guaidó, recognized as president in charge of the country by about 60 countries.
López spent three years in the Ramo Verde military prison and, after mediation by the former Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, another three under house arrest. During the failed military uprising of April 30, 2019, López managed to evade police custody and leave his home in complicity with the then head of Sebin, Cristopher Figuera, who defected and fled to the United States that same day.
So far, the Executive of Nicolás Maduro has not referred to the flight of López, who for more than a decade has been identified as the main adversary of Chavismo. Only Diosdado Cabello, number two of the regime and president of the National Constituent Assembly, issued comments on Sunday when asked about the issue during a mock election on December 6. “Guests don't run away. I am sure that the ambassador accompanied him to the door, ”said Cabello, after describing the opposition leader as a thief and coward. “You have to see who that hurts the most. Leopoldo López has always been a problem for the opposition, not ours ”.
A year ago, Commissioner Iván Simonovis also escaped from house arrest, being in the custody of Sebin, and fled to the United States. The escape was also followed by arrests around her, including that of Antonia Turbay, a Spanish neighbor of Simonovis, who was imprisoned for more than a year and was released in August during the granting of pardons to 110 political prisoners.