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Leopoldo López: I Will Return to Liberate Venezuela
The opposition leader says that he will work from “exile” to seek “freedom, alleviate the food crisis and seek justice for the murders” committed by the Nicolás Maduro regime

MADRID – Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López said on Tuesday in Madrid that he never wanted to leave his homeland and that he intends to “return to liberate Venezuela,” although meanwhile, and from “exile,” he will work to seek “freedom, alleviate the food crisis and seek justice for the murders” committed by the Nicolás Maduro regime.

Those are the three objectives that López set forth on Tuesday in the Spanish capital at a press conference at which he was accompanied by his family and representatives of the Venezuelan opposition in Spain.

López arrived last Sunday in Madrid after leaving the Spanish ambassador’s residence in Caracas, where he had been staying as a “guest” since April 30, 2019, and then leaving his country in a “clandestine” manner across the Colombian border.

“I’ve always said I did not want to leave Venezuela, (but) unfortunately circumstances led me to this,” the opposition leader said, calling the Maduro government a “dictatorship.”

“We Venezuelans who are in exile are going to return to liberate Venezuela and build a better country. We’re completely convinced that Venezuela will be free,” he said.

López went on to say that “today nobody has any doubt that Maduro is a criminal, a murderer, he heads a structure that has looted and continues to loot the national territory and the wealth of Venezuelans and that he’s our responsibility, but also that of the free world, of democratic leaders and peoples who believe in freedom and democracy.”

“Venezuela is going to be free, not thanks to foreign agents, but rather by the internal force of Venezuelans in coordination with the free world,” he said.

“Nowadays,” he said, “thanks to the work of many Venezuelan leaders, it’s clear that Venezuela is a dictatorship and Maduro is a criminal,” López said, adding that the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights considers the country’s incumbent to be “cruel, repressive and a murderer.”

López had been staying at the Spanish envoy’s residence since he left house arrest to join an attempted military uprising against Maduro that ultimately failed.

At the Madrid press conference, López thanked God and the Spanish government for making it possible for him to leave Venezuela, referring to opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the “legitimate president of Venezuela.”

“From here I’m going to be able to contribute as part of a team that Juan Guaidó leads, and I’m sure that we’re going to contribute a lot from outside,” López said, calling himself a “victim” and saying that “all victims deserve justice.”

“Europe cannot turn its back, and neither can the United States” on a regime that, according to the UN, has committed “crimes against humanity,” López said, thanking the European Union for the support it has given to Guaidó and to the cause “of Venezuelan freedom.”

He also thanked “the countries of the region who have been with us in the struggle in recent years to obtain our freedom and my brothers in struggle who are in Venezuela. Above all, to the Venezuelan people, brothers and sisters who are suffering greatly.”

López, who refused to provide any details about his exit from the country “to protect the integrity of those who helped me and those who might want to leave in the same way,” said that Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez views Maduro as “a dictator” and is firmly in favor of free and democratic elections in the South American country.

“Sánchez’s position is clearly that Maduro is a dictator” and that “there must be free and democratic elections in Venezuela,” López said, having been received by Sánchez shortly before the press conference in his capacity as general secretary of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) at the party headquarters, and not at Moncloa Palace in his capacity as premier.

López emphasized that his meeting with Sánchez was “very cordial and positive.”

The Spanish government, López said, “is not going to recognize the (Dec. 6 legislative) elections in Venezuela, which the European Union has requested not be held.”

López said he was convinced that “Spain’s and Europe’s position will be the same as in 2018, when the elections were not recognized,” adding that “the Venezuelan cause must be supported by those who believe in liberty, democracy and human rights.”

About Spain’s envoy to Venezuela, Jesús Silva Fernández, López said that “he is a great diplomat who has very firmly represented the policy of his country, yet understanding the firmness he had to have with the Venezuelan cause.”

In that regard, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya said on Tuesday that López was a “guest of the embassy” of Spain in Caracas, free to leave whenever he wanted because “a guest is not a hostage.”

González Laya said that it was López’s decision to leave the Spanish embassy in Caracas and travel to Madrid to reunite with his family on Sunday, a move that sparked criticism from the Maduro regime, which arrested several embassy workers and staged several raids on the homes of personnel assigned to the diplomatic delegation.

“Mr. López was a guest of the embassy of Spain in Caracas and a guest is not a hostage. A guest is someone who is there, arrives, remains and can leave when he decides, and he has been in this case. He left the embassy according to his own wishes,” the minister said when questioned on the subject by reporters.


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