Friday, May 24, 2024

Venezuelan Opposition Leader López Receives Maximum Sentence


Leopold Lopez, the jailed Venezuelan opposition leader and head of the Voluntad Popular Party, received a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison this week on charges of inciting violence and plotting to overthrow the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro following an abruptly ended trial.

Pro-Lopez demonstrators clashed with pro-government crowds outside the courthouse with denunciations from the United States and human rights groups condemning the sentencing. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican said “the sentence, handed down by an illegitimate court, should come as no surprise. It is time that we strengthen sanctions and increase pressure on the Maduro regime in Venezuela.”

The Venezuelan government contends that Lopez’s rhetoric in 2014 represented a threat to lives and property and although the guilty verdict was expected, many expressed disbelief that the judge handed down the maximum sentence available. Opposition supporters had hoped that the government would lessen the sentencing in an effort to quell strong divisions in Venezuelan society ahead of legislative elections scheduled for December in which the opposition in on track to perform well in.

In Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry recently met with Lopez’s wife, Lilian Tintori, and called Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez to express the Unites States’ concern over the irregularities of Lopez’s trial.

In a statement, Garry Kasparov, chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and a former Russian opposition leader against President Vladimir Putin said “Lopez’s trial has confirmed that the fundamental rights and freedoms of Venezuelans are currently suspended, and that the individual is utterly defenseless in the face of government abuse. The free world must bear witness.”

[Fox News Latino]