Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López escaped from the South American country and was traveling on Saturday to Spain, where he will spend time with his family before eventually heading towards the United States to continue the efforts to outs the Nicolas Maduro regime, sources close to the former political prisoner told el Nuevo Herald.
López, who had found refuge in the residence of the Spanish ambassador to Venezuela after escaping from custody in April 2019, crossed the border into Colombia sometime this week, avoiding detection despite the many road blocks and increased security setup by the regime to enforce the coronavirus quarantine, the sources said.
“Right now, he is on his way to Spain to meet with his family,” said a person close to the leader who spoke on condition of anonymity. “But the idea is that after Spain he will come to the United States to resolve pending issues.”
Previously, López’s father, Leopoldo López Gil, had confirmed from Spain that his son was “on his way” to that country, which was confirmed soon afterwards by interim president Juan Guaidó, who is recognized as the legitimate president of Venezuela by an international coalition of almost 60 countries.
“Maduro, you don’t control anything. By circumventing your repressive apparatus, we managed to get [López] out to international territory,” said Guaidó through his Twitter account.
López — who spent almost three years inside the Ramo Verde military prison on the outskirts of Caracas, then two more years under house arrest — is the top leader of Guaido’s political party, Voluntad Popular, and was considered for years Venezuela’s best-known political prisoner.
He escaped from house arrest in April 2019 and ended up at the Spanish ambassador’s residence, where he kept in contact with opposition politicalleaders and went on to wield great influence inside the Guaido governing team.
That relationship between López and opposition leaders and other dissidents did not go unnoticed by the Maduro regime, which frequently accused him of planning a coup while under the protection of the Spanish ambassador.
“Does the ambassador of Spain and does the government of Spain know that Leopoldo López has made and continues to participate in repeated videoconferences with the sole purpose of insisting on his plans to assassinate President Nicolás Maduro?” Minister of Communication Jorge Rodríguez declared in June.
“Does the ambassador of Spain agree, does the government of Spain agree, with these meetings that have been held at its headquarters, at the headquarters of his residence, where Leopoldo López was asking: How many people can you kill and how many people can you kill, how many bombs can you place,, how much are you going to charge me?” Rodríguez added.
According to the regime, López actively participated in the planning of the failed Operation Gideon, launched earlier this year, in which dozens of Venezuelan military personnel trained by the U.S. firm Silver Corp. entered Venezuela to capture Maduro, aiming to deliver him to the United States, where he is accused of drug trafficking.