Leopoldo López in Madrid

The opposition leader escaped the Spanish Embassy in Venezuela, while Embassy workers have been detained; Spain and Venezuela are citing the Vienna Convention to argue about the event

A plot twist, provoking all sorts of reactions.

Photo: La Opinión A Coruña

  • Leopoldo López, leader of opposition political party Voluntad Popular, reunited with his family in Madrid, after over six years of prison and political persecution by chavismo. His father, Eurodeputy Leopoldo López Gil, tweeted: “Very happy to reunite with my son in Madrid and enjoy his freedom alongside the family. Thank you, Spain, for supporting democratic principles.” The Spanish government confirmed his arrival in a communiqué and condemned the detentions of Embassy personnel on Saturday night, when SEBIN officers raided the building where diplomatic personnel and Spanish security officers reside. They also detained cook Nubia Campos and the security guard of the Spanish residence in Caracas. We first heard of the escape on Spanish media outlets on Saturday. The Spanish Foreign  Ministry said that it was “a voluntary and personal” decision, even though changing the ambassador in Caracas, Jesús Silva, who protected López, is a key factor.
  • On August, 28th, 2019, AN Speaker and caretaker President Juan Guaidó had appointed Leopoldo López as the special commissioner for the government council, after three and a half years of imprisonment at the Ramo Verde military jail and 21 more months in his home. In his first tweets after the escape, López said that it wasn’t an easy decision and announced that in the next few days he’d share the “actions that we are going to do for the freedom of our people.” In theory, he’d coordinate from exile, he’ll have more range of motion than from the embassy, where he couldn’t have visitors, but he wouldn’t be in Venezuela. News site El Pitazo had access to the route López used to escape. They say “he left via Apure to Colombia. From there to Bogotá, then Barranquilla and Miami, where he got on a flight to Spain.” 
  • Spain condemned the detention of embassy personnel “and the raids on houses of embassy workers, acts that violate the obligations in the Vienna Convention about Diplomatic Relations.” The message also reiterated that the solution to the Venezuelan crisis is a “negotiated exit, coordinated by Venezuelans, that allows holding presidential and parliamentary elections with all democratic guarantees.” Juan Guaidó’s representative in Spain, Antonio Ecarri, thanked Spain “for their resolution in guaranteeing Leopoldo López’s integrity.” Ecarri added that López escaped under the nose of chavismo’s security forces, a key message with consequences in Caracas. Deputy Adriana Pichardo denounced on Sunday that the detainees disappeared, no family members or lawyers know where Nubia Campos, Ibrahim Sojo, Carlos García and José Neira are. At the same time, this contradicts versions of López leaving with chavismo’s permission. 
  • The first chavista voice to complain about Leopoldo López’s escape was TV host Mario Silva, who actually doubted on Saturday what the government of Spain had already assured happened.
  • On Sunday, PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello accused Ambassador Jesús Silva Fernández of facilitating Leopoldo López’s escape: “He didn’t escape the Embassy of the United… of, of, Spain. Guests don’t escape. I guarantee that being a guest, the Spanish ambassador walked him to the door or the car that took him,” he said, and added that you’ll see him with “the opposition clan that has run away and is now abroad demanding sanctions and an invasion.” 
  • It’s important that Diosdado Cabello said that López is “the opposition’s problem, not ours. This man is crazy, he’s been whacked for a long time. Let them handle his maniac,” and said that this escape hurts the opposition. 
  • A little over 24 hours after the news broke, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry published a communiqué accusing Spain of being an accomplice in the “escape of terrorist” Leopoldo López, even though he wasn’t charged with terrorism at any point. Nicolás Foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza accused Spain of a “flagrant violation of the Vienna Convention (…) by facilitating, with evident complicity, an escape.” He warned that there’s an investigation. 
  • López’s case is the first case in the UN Fact-Finding Mission Report, showing crimes against humanity. It details violations in his trial and imprisonment. They concluded that “these could constitute torture and cruel, degrading and inhumane treatement.” 
  • Chavismo asphyxiated scientific investigation in Venezuela, degraded it, taking their budget and denying its importance. However, Nicolás lied on Sunday and assured that the IVIC (The Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research) has been investigating SARS-COV-2, which allowed them to find a molecule that “eliminates coronavirus 100% (…), studying a molecule that has been capable of curing cancer and many other diseases.” He said they’ll send their findings to the WHO, so they certify “the scientific discovery” and that after they ratify the finding, they’ll proceed to mass produce the molecule and “present it to the world as the cure for the virus.” 
  • Delcy Rodríguez reported that there were 423 new cases of COVID-19 in the country and three deaths, for a total of 89,565 cases and 773 deaths they’ve admitted to. 
  • Nicolás reported that starting Monday, October 26th, Venezuela is back to strict quarantine, after a “successful week of flexibilization.” He praised the 7+7 method, and repeated, as he does every week, that the curve is descending and flattening, even though the world is decreeing new quarantines because of the increase of cases in what’s considered a second wave. Believe it or not, Nicolás compared his performance to the U.S. and Europe, assuming that the regime has managed it better in a country where there’s no electricity, water, cooking gas and with hyperinflation and over 90% of the country living in poverty. 
  • Nicolás announced changes in his cabinet: Félix Plasencia is the new ambassador to China, so Alí Padrón Paredes becomes the Tourism minister. The unknown minister of Electricity Freddy Brito, was replaced with Néstor Reverol, who was one of the people who ordered crimes against humanity, according to the Fact-Finding Mission report. Finally, Carmen Meléndez, even though she has done a terrible job as the governor of Lara, will be the minister of Interior and Justice. 
  • Leopoldo López’s escape provoked the typical clashes among Venezuelans in social media. He faced an unfair trial, after which judge Susana Barreiros sentenced him to almost 14 years in prison, disregarding the testimony of semiologist Rosa Amelia Azuaje, who assured that the investigation was manipulated. Prosecutor Franklin Nieves also warned that there was no legal basis for charging López with crimes. The crown jewel of chavismo’s political prisoners left the country and Nicolás didn’t say anything. That’s a message too.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.