Venezuelan opposition figure Lopez abandons Caracas residence to flee abroad: sources

FILE PHOTO: Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez talks to the media at the residence of the Spanish ambassador in Caracas, Venezuela May 2, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez has abandoned the Spanish ambassador’s residence in Caracas to leave the country, over a year after entering to escape house arrest, three people familiar with his exit said.

Lopez was heading for Colombia, two of the people said, though it was immediately clear if he had already arrived.

Lopez was jailed in 2014 after leading protests against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. He was provisionally released in 2017.

From house arrest, he was a mentor to opposition leader Juan Guaido, who early last year invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency and began a campaign to unseat Maduro.

In April 2019, when Guaido tried to spur a military revolt against Maduro, Lopez appeared on the streets again alongside him. When the uprising fizzled, Lopez sought shelter first in the Chilean diplomatic residence and then at the home of the Spanish ambassador.

Reporting by Vivian Sequera, Mayela Armas and Brian Ellsworth; Writing by Angus Berwick