CARACAS – Venezuela’s opposition MUD alliance called on Sunday its supporters to Caracas to mark the 100th day of resistance against the government of Nicolas Maduro.
The demonstration will not only mark the 100-day anniversary but will also be the first public protest by the opposition after on Saturday one of their main leaders, Leopoldo Lopez, was released from a military prison – where he had been held for more than three years – and placed under house arrest.
Anti-government activists will gather on Jose Marti Square in the capital’s Chacao district, the same spot where Lopez – the government’s most noteworthy political prisoner – turned himself in to authorities on Feb. 18, 2014.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Lilian Tintori, Lopez’s wife, said that house arrest was authorized for her husband because there were no guarantees that he would remain unharmed in prison.
“There were no negotiations for Leopoldo to be in his home, it was a measure (taken) because they tortured Leopoldo in the Ramo Verde military prison,” Tintori told reporters during an opposition demonstration in Caracas.
The Supreme Court had said that Lopez exchanged prison for house arrest for “health reasons,” although his family said he is in perfect health.
On Twitter, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas noted the wave of rumors that erupted on May 3 when false information began circulating that Lopez had died in prison.
“Now, his life is the exclusive responsibility of his wife and allies,” Villegas tweeted.
Tintori said that Lopez had lost 5 kilograms (11 pounds) in recent days because prison authorities had refused to allow him to eat the food she had been preparing for him.
“It was a unilateral decision by the government of Nicolas Maduro” because “freedom is non-negotiable, human rights are non-negotiable, dignity is non-negotiable, and ... our family (is non-negotiable also),” she said regarding the speculation that Lopez’s transfer was the result of the opposition’s negotiations with the government.
The MUD alliance called on Sunday on its supporters to take to the streets around the country on Monday to inform people about the popular referendum it is scheduled to hold next Sunday to reject the constitutional assembly called by Maduro.
“We call on all Venezuelans to prepare for tomorrow from noon to 2 pm to hold this (protest) with signs alluding to the sovereign consultation process for Sunday, July 16,” lawmaker and MUD spokesman Juan Andres Mejia announced at a press conference.
The independent popular consultation process will allow Venezuelans to be asked, among other things, if they agree with the creation of the Constitutional National Assembly convened by Maduro for July 30 to rewrite the country’s constitution.
Since April 1, Venezuela has experienced a wave of mostly anti-government protests that have left at least 91 people dead and some 1,500 injured.