Oct 24, 2020 - World

Opposition leader Leopoldo López flees Venezuela

Venezuelan high-profile opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez speaks outside the Spanish embassy in Caracas, on May 2, 2019

Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo López outside the Spanish embassy in Caracas, in 2019. Photo: Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images

Leopoldo López, a former political prisoner and prominent Venezuelan opposition leader, has left the country, his Popular Will party confirmed in a statement Saturday.

Why it matters: He's been highly influential in the push to oust President Nicolás Maduro's regime and a mentor to opposition leader Juan Guaidó. He'd been in the Spanish ambassador's Caracas residence since escaping house arrest in April 2019 following a failed military uprising.

Details: Both his party and Spain's Ministry of Exterior confirmed his departure but would not be drawn on his whereabouts.

  • His father, Leopoldo López Sr., a member of European Parliament for Spain's conservative opposition Popular Party, told AFP López had fled a couple of days ago before crossing the border to Colombia Friday. He was expected to arrive in Spain Sunday, he said.
  • It's unclear how López managed to evade the heavy security outside the ambassador's residence, AP notes.

What they're saying: "After seven years of persecution and unjust imprisonment inside Venezuela, Leopoldo López is still not totally free, like all Venezuelans, so long as there exists a dictatorship that violates the human rights of the people," the Popular Will party said in its statement.

  • Guaidó posted a tweet directed at Maduro, saying "evading your repressive apparatus, we managed to get" López into another location, from where his fight against the regime continues.

Flashback: The most important political prisoner in Latin America

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