Hard-line opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has handed himself over to Venezuelan security forces answering an arrest warrant placed on the figure following last week's fatal protests against the regime of President Nicolas Maduro. The government formally accused Lopez of instigating the protests and conspiring for a right-wing coup.
Lopez, 42, Harvard-educated economist who has spearheaded the protest movement, got into an armored vehicle after giving a speech to an opposition rally in Caracas on another chaotic day in Caracas.
Today I present myself before an unjust, corrupt justice system, which does not act according to the constitution and law, but I present myself before my fellow Venezuelans, with our deepest commitment that if I go to jail it will serve to wake up the people and the majority of Venezuelans who want change in peace and democracy, López stated as he addressed a protest in Bríon de Chacaito square on Tuesday.
We have to build a way out of this disaster and the way out has to be peaceful and within the constitution, but it also has to be on the streets.
The opposition figure, who announced that he would walk towards a police barricade to turn himself in, told supporters I am innocent. I have nothing to fear, and I will always show my face.
López was also accompanied by Henrique Capriles, who unsuccessfully ran against Maduro in the 2013 presidential elections.
Likewise and to counter the opposition protests, several thousand oil workers and President Maduro supporters, clad in the red of the ruling Socialist Party, also held their own demonstration on Tuesday, music blaring in a party atmosphere.
Comrade President Nicolas Maduro can count on the working class, said oil union leader Wills Rangel
Fighting in Venezuela following a series of protests has claimed four lives in the past week, the most recent on Monday evening when a 17-year-old was struck by a vehicle in the east of the country.
Meanwhile from Buenos Aires the government of President Cristina Fernandez ratified its support and solidarity to Maduro Chief Jorge Capitanich said “any conspiratorial attitude” in Venezuela poses a threat “to all South American democracies.”
In his daily brief to the press at the government house, the Argentine head of ministers expressed Argentina’s “solidarity with all the democratic governments in the region.” “The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, through its president Nicolás Maduro, legitimately and legally exercises its responsibility and we express our solidarity so that he meets his government objectives,” Capitanich stated blasting what he called “conspiratorial” attacks.
“Any attitude of a conspiratorial nature or manipulation of public opinion that tend to discredit the legitimate right to exercise the government responsibility is an affront to all democracies in the region,” the official added a day after the UNASUR regional bloc firmly condemned the violent events in Venezuela, calling for the “preservation of institutions and democratic principles.”