US Markets

Venezuelan opposition politician Lopez arrives in Madrid, Spain says

Credit: REUTERS/CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS

Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez arrived in Madrid on Sunday, Spain's foreign ministry said, after spending the past year at the Spanish ambassador's residence in Venezuela to escape house arrest.

Lopez spent past year at Spanish ambassador's residence

In tweets, Lopez said he had left Venezuela

'This decision has not been easy,' he tweeted

Adds response from Venezuelan government, arrests

MADRID, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez arrived in Madrid on Sunday, Spain's foreign ministry said, after spending the past year at the Spanish ambassador's residence in Venezuela to escape house arrest.

Lopez, in a series of tweets earlier, said he had left Venezuela but did not disclose his location. He pledged to continue helping the political opposition from exile in their campaign to unseat President Nicolas Maduro.

"Venezuelans, this decision has not been easy, but rest assured that you can count on this servant to fight from anywhere," Lopez said. "We will not rest and we will continue working day and night to achieve the freedom that all Venezuelans deserve."

In a statement, the Spanish foreign ministry said Lopez's decision to leave the Spanish embassy in Venezuela was "personal and voluntary."

Lopez's party, Popular Will, did not say how he left Venezuela, but two people familiar with the matter said he travelled via Colombia.

Lopez was jailed in 2014for leading violent protests against Maduro, and was released to house arrest in 2017. From his Caracas home, he was a mentor to opposition leader Juan Guaido, who early last year invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency and began a campaign to unseat Maduro.

In April 2019, when Guaido tried to spur a military revolt against Maduro, Lopez appeared on the streets alongside him. After the uprising fizzled, Lopez sought shelter at the Spanish ambassador's residence. Lopez's wife, Lilian Tintori, who had joined him at the residence, left for Spain that May.

Since then, Guaido's campaign has struggled to maintain momentum, while authorities have detained dozens of his allies and Maduro has cemented his control over the military.

Venezuela's government on Sunday accused Spain, in a statement, of aiding the "illegal escape of a dangerous criminal" in violation of international law and said authorities would investigate the "crimes committed."

Following Lopez's flight, intelligence agents arrested four Venezuelans who worked with Lopez in Caracas, including two of his bodyguards, according to Ana Leonor Acosta, a local lawyer who said she was contracted to defend the four individuals.

(Reporting by Jessica Jones, Elena Rodriguez, Belen Carreno in Madrid; Vivian Sequera and Angus Berwick in Caracas; Editing by Catherine Evans, Susan Fenton, Nick Macfie and Richard Chang)

((jessica.jones@thomsonreuters.com;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Latest Markets Videos

    Reuters

    Reuters, the news and media division of Thomson Reuters, is the world’s largest international multimedia news provider reaching more than one billion people every day. Reuters provides trusted business, financial, national, and international news to professionals via Thomson Reuters desktops, the world's media organizations, and directly to consumers at Reuters.com and via Reuters TV.

    Learn More