Caracas says Spain envoy helped Venezuela opposition leader flee

Caracas says Spain envoy helped Venezuela opposition leader flee

Sunday, October 25, 2020

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CARACAS,Venezuela(AFP)— Venezuela's government accused Madrid'senvoytoCaracason Sunday of being an accomplice in the "escape" ofoppositionleaderLeopoldo Lopez toSpain.

Lopez, who had been sheltering at the Spanish ambassador's residence inCaracasfor 18 months, arrived Sunday in Madrid after first crossing into Colombia.

"The head of the Spanish diplomatic mission inVenezuelaserved as the main organizer and confessed accomplice of the... escape from Venezuelan territory of the criminal Leopoldo Lopez," President Nicolas Maduro's government said in a statement.

Following Lopez's departure,Caracasdenounced what it called "the flagrant breach of the fundamental provisions of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations" bySpain.

It accusedSpainof "incessant" interference in Venezuelan affairs.

Spanish ambassador Jesus Silva had been expelled in January 2018, also on allegations of interfering.

His return was agreed in April the same year, andCaracassayshe failed to live up to his commitment to respect "Venezuelan and international laws," noting his sheltering of Lopez.

Lopez, the former mayor of Chacao, an up-market district ofCaracas, was arrested in 2014 and accused of inciting violence when massoppositionprotests began inVenezuela.

He served several years in prison before being released to house arrest.

His father is a Spanish European deputy with the conservative Popular Party.

In addition to rejoining his family in Madrid, Lopez will be able to contact other Venezuelanoppositionleaders there, such as formerCaracasmayor Antonio Ledezma.

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