The Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López left Venezuela this Saturday after leaving the residence of the Spanish ambassador in Caracas, where he had been sheltered since April 30, 2019. His objective, according to sources in his environment, is to travel to Spain, where they reside his family and his father, Leopoldo López Gil, MEP of the Popular Party. The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs assured that his departure “is the result of a voluntary and personal decision,” while Juan Guaidó , president of the National Assembly, stressed that López he went “mocking” the security forces of the Chavista government.
López was in Spanish diplomatic offices since he led, together with Guaidó, an uprising that sought to unleash a revolt in the Armed Forces and overthrow Nicolás Maduro . Everything was in an attempt frustrated by the military forces that remained loyal to the regime. Lost the opportunity, the former mayor of the Chacao municipality, who had been condemned by the Chavez-controlled justice system for his role in the wave of protests in 2014, then took refuge in the residence of the ambassador, Jesús Silva.
The sources consulted, which at first pointed to Colombia as López’s first destination, later placed the politician on the island of Aruba. In any case they assure that their objective is to travel to Spain. They do not rule out, they add, that he first visit the United States, where the candidates are heading into the final stretch of the electoral campaign. “Let’s hope he comes to Spain, but we don’t know yet,” says a family spokesman. “There are sources that say it will arrive tomorrow, there are sources that say it will arrive on Monday. We don’t know, ”he told EL PAÍS in statements. Regarding how the operation was carried out and the whereabouts of the politician, he explained that they are unaware of the operation because “the son is managing it clearly. “What we can confirm is that he has left voluntarily and that there has been no pressure from the Government of Spain, far from it.” These sources deny that it was due to the replacement of the new ambassador, announced a month ago, and also maintain that there has not been an internal negotiation for the dissident to leave the country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had also assured that Silva’s departure would not change López’s situation.
The leader’s party, Voluntad Popular, pointed out that “this decision, like each of those taken by Leopoldo López in his political actions, have been taken considering the best for the country and for the fight for the freedom of Venezuela” . However, his departure, which adds to a long list of persecuted opponents who had to go into exile, is also a sign of the little hopes that even the opposition leadership has in a process of change or a short-term transition. After the flight, agents of the Bolivian Intelligence Service (Sebin) arrested one of the private security guards of the embassy, who had been working with the Spanish diplomatic service for years. They also arrested, at her home, a domestic worker hired by López who used to bring him food.
The opposition leader always remained on the political front line even after his arrest. He became a symbol of the resistance against Maduro and, especially since he went to house arrest and later settled in the Spanish Embassy, he piloted the strategy of the opposition forces and of Guaidó himself. In recent months, this path of pressure against Chavismo and unconditional rejection of the electoral processes called by the Government, which has not yielded concrete results, received harsh criticism from other sectors of the opposition such as the current led by Henrique Capriles .
Since Maduro, in search of oxygen before the Constituent Assembly elections in July 2017, granted him the measure of house arrest, the anti-Chavista leader has sought various ways to increase pressure against the Bolivarian regime. The key movement in early 2019 was the uprising of Guaidó, until then a deputy of the Popular Will party with little public presence. Guaidó was elected head of the legislative branch and, as such, he challenged Maduro by proclaiming himself interim president, under a constitutional interpretation that disqualified Hugo Chávez’s successor for being, according to that reading, a usurper of power.
That step unleashed a wave of protests that shook Venezuela and generated a sense of imminent change during the first half of the year. While the Donald Trump Administration tightened sanctions against the Government of Caracas, Guaidó and López tried to force a rebellion within the Armed Forces that never took place . Yes, there were dozens of desertions, some very significant like that of the Chief of the Intelligence Service, Christopher Figuera, but insufficient to cause a bankruptcy in the police and the Army.
At the end of August, Maduro granted clemency to a hundred opposition prisoners in an attempt to find a suitable terrain to negotiate the participation of sectors of the opposition in the legislative elections called for December 6. Then the thesis circulated that López’s pardon was also on the table, although the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, denied that point in conversation with EL PAÍS . Among the opposition leaders who benefited from this measure was Roberto Marrero, Guaidó’s chief of staff. He first tried to leave the country and travel to Madrid, but the authorities prevented him. Later, thanks to the mediation of Spain and the intervention of Mexico, Marrero was able to travel to Florida, where he is now.