Four years ago today, Leopoldo Lopez turned himself in to regime authorities at a massive anti-government demonstration in Caracas. By the time of his arrest, Lopez had become the tip of the spear in the nascent 2014 protest movement, which began in early February and lasted until July. As the head of the popular Voluntad Popular (VP) opposition party, Lopez played a key role in calling for and organizing what would become the most serious challenge to Maduro’s presidency since coming to power in 2013.
The image below, shared today by Lopez’s wife, Lilian Tintori, is of the protest on February 18, 2014 which culminated with Lopez surrounding himself to the authorities:
Lopez was arrested after being accused by the Maduro regime of having precipitated the protest violence that claimed the lives of three people in Caracas on February 12. After a trial that was rife with irregularities, Lopez was sentenced to 13 years in prison on September 11, 2015. He is now serving out his sentence under a strict house arrest regimen.
Just three days ago, former attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz revealed that she came under direct pressure from Maduro and PSUV vice-president Diosdado Cabello to charge Lopez, adding yet more evidence to the argument that Lopez’s arrest, trial and detention were purely political and not based on any fact.
The Lopez case has been extensively covered by organizations like the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, all of which are in agreement that he is a political prisoner who should be freed immediately.
Tintori: Only Maduristas Will Run for President
Human rights activist Lilian Tintori spoke today on the occasion of her husband’s fourth anniversary in custody, and looked ahead to the upcoming April 22 presidential election.
For Tintori, the question of whether the opposition should run a candidate in the election is simple: any individual who decides to run in the election would be playing into the hands of the Maduro regime and doing it a favour. Tintori echoed her husband’s position and that of the VP party, saying that “the conditions are not present” to participate in the election, given the widespread perception that they are rigged in favour of Maduro.
Tintori pointed out that Venezuelans are not the only ones who believe that the vote will be rigged by reminding a crowd of supporters that the talks between the ruling PSUV party and the MUD opposition bloc collapsed in part after the governments of Chile and Mexico withdrew their support for the initiative over the matter of the election. Tintori said:
Chile and Mexico [are] two strong regional countries. They are witnesses [to the fact that] the conditions are not present, and that is why we are not going to the election.
Colombia Deports 102 Venezuelans
Colombian immigration authorities deported 102 Venezuelan citizens this weekend. The individuals were deported from the Arauca department for not having the required documentation to stay in the country.
According to El Universal, the individuals were located by officers of the Grupo Especial Migratorio (Special Migration Group) (GEM), a new unit purpose-built to help Bogota regulate the flow of Venezuelans into the country. The GEM is a mixed unit made up of national police officers, members of the Colombian armed forces, immigration officers.
Last week, the Colombian government announced a new set of measures to attempt to deal with the massive influx of Venezuelans into the country.
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