Coup Fails? Guaido’s Mentor takes Refuge in Chilean Embassy as 25 Military Seek Asylum in Brazil’s
Venezuelan opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez has sought refuge in Chile’s embassy in Caracas, while at least 25 pro-Juan Guaido troops asked Brazil for refuge. The news all but points to the failure of the US-backed coup attempt.
Lopez had been under house arrest since 2017, but was seen at the side of Guaido – who had declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela in January – on Tuesday morning, as supporters of the US-backed opposition sought to take control of Caracas by force. At least 50 people were injured and 11 arrested during the unrest on Tuesday.
By the afternoon, however, Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero tweeted that Lopez, his wife Lilian Tintori, and their daughter were “guests” of the Chilean diplomatic mission in Caracas, adding that “Chile reaffirms commitment to Venezuelan democrats.”
Later on Tuesday, Lopez and his wife moved to the Spanish embassy, according to Ampuero, who tweeted that it was a “personal decision” on the part of the pair, who are of Spanish descent.
Meanwhile, at least 25 armed Guaido supporters have sought refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Caracas, Brazilian media reported. There were no officers among them, according to reports.
The flight of Lopez and his family suggests that Guaido’s effort to win over the Venezuelan military and police – with verbal support from Washington – may have failed, as the majority of the security forces apparently remained loyal to President Nicolas Maduro.
Lopez founded Voluntad Popular, the party Guaido represents in the National Assembly. The legislative body was last elected in 2015, and Maduro’s government considers it defunct following the 2017 Constituent Assembly election.
During the 2014 protests in Venezuela, Lopez was arrested and charged with arson, conspiracy, murder and terrorism. Some of the charges were dropped, but he was found guilty of inciting violence in September 2015 and sentenced to almost 14 years in prison. He was placed under house arrest in July 2017, until he reappeared in public on Tuesday morning.