Leopoldo López celebrates six months at the Spanish Embassy in Venezuela with no prospect of change in his situation


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The opponent has limited political activity while the Maduro Government has shown more resistance than many thought


Venezuelan opponent Leopoldo López, who remained incarcerated in Caracas for almost three and a half years and was almost two others under house arrest, will serve six months as a “guest” on Wednesday at the residence of the Spanish ambassador in Venezuela, with no indication that Your situation, like that of the country, may change soon.

Leopoldo López celebrates six months at the Spanish Embassy in Venezuela with no prospect of change in his situation
Leopoldo López celebrates six months at the Spanish Embassy in Venezuela with no prospect of change in his situation

“It is a kind of catastrophic tie, none manages to uneven the situation, but it is a misleading tie because Nicolás Maduro has the institutional power”, sums up the associate researcher of the Royal Institute Elcano Rogelio Núñez.

On April 30, López was released by a “presidential pardon” by Juan Guaidó, president of the National Assembly whom Spain and other countries recognize as president in charge of the country. Guaidó called for the uprising of the Armed Forces but this did not occur and López, accompanied by his wife, Lilian Tintori, and his young daughter, ended up arriving first at the Chilean Embassy and then at the Spanish one.

In early June, Tintori, who has an Italian passport, traveled with the girl to Madrid, where her two oldest children were already. However, López remains in the residence of the Spanish ambassador, under the same conditions in which he entered six months ago, that is, as a guest of the ambassador, Jesús Silva, and with a limitation of his political activity, diplomatic sources remind Europa Press .

This limitation was publicly warned by the acting Spanish Foreign Minister, Josep Borrell, a few days after his reception and after Lopez had a meeting with journalists. The opponent has not requested asylum, nor can he do so because Spanish law only allows that request to be made in national territory. Of course, it is protected by the inviolability of the Embassy complex.

For CIDOB senior researcher Susanne Gratius, that April 30 operation was not an attempt at a military uprising, but rather “an attempt to safeguard Leopoldo López”, which still has “great symbolic value” for the opposition.


“Lopez still has the halo of the regime's victim,” says Núñez. Investigators agree that López remains a “great reference” for a part of the opposition, which remains very disjointed. Meanwhile, they see “losing strength” the figure of Guaidó, who managed to unify all sectors with the expectation of a rapid change and with a situation of weakness of the Venezuelan Government.

The decision to host López at the Embassy was another step in the exceptional nature that governs diplomatic relations between Spain and Venezuela since the beginning of this year. Spain, like most of the EU countries, does not recognize Maduro's mandate that began on January 10, because he did not see the 2018 elections democratic, and this led him to recognize Guaidó as the president in charge.

Of course, shortly after, Guaidó appointed an ambassador for Spain, Antonio Ecarri, to whom the Government has given personal representative status, while maintaining diplomatic accreditation to Mario Isea, the one appointed by Maduro. Taking measures against the Embassy or the ambassador could encourage reciprocal measures against Spanish representation in Caracas.


Thus, Spain and Venezuela keep the channels of communication open. “Relationships have not been broken, but they are very cold,” says Núñez.

The Spanish Government continues trying, through the EU, to encourage a peaceful, democratic and negotiated solution among Venezuelans themselves, and at the same time address the humanitarian crisis. In Gratius' opinion, it will be interesting to see what the EU does when the current acting Spanish minister, Josep Borrell, assumes the leadership of European diplomacy.

And that, in his view, if the dialogue were resumed, it would be “much more asymmetrical”, because now “the balance is in favor of the regime” which, thanks to its international alliances, has scored as many as one seat in the UN Human Rights Council.

Maduro's regime, like Daniel Ortega's in Nicaragua, emphasizes Núñez, “has had a much greater survival capacity” than many thought and “no act has managed to break the regime.” The reason, as both experts point out, is the Armed Forces, “who do not see any viable alternative for their own security and do not see the future clearly.”

“It is not that the Armed Forces support the Government, it is that they are the Government,” said the CIDOB researcher, for whom “the regime is sustained because some continue to live well,” despite being “a fragile and highly corrupt State” .

Thus, and although no scenario can be ruled out, especially given the hyperinflation suffered by the population, experts do not see an end of the Maduro regime in the short term. Núñez also does not believe that the United States would seriously consider a military intervention, but only as a “pressure letter.”


For Gratius, who believes that the US sanctions are counterproductive because they help the regime present an outside enemy, the EU should direct its efforts in another direction: “The key is Cuba,” he says.

According to his analysis, Cuba is maintained thanks to its foreign relations and, in particular, thanks to Venezuelan oil and the EU “could do a lot because it has privileged channels with Cuba that nobody else has.” “The EU imposes sanctions on Venezuela but has a great relationship with Cuba,” he says.

In the international aspect, the changes in the region and in the Lima Group, which supported the toughest faction of the opposition, will also weigh. Argentina has just elected a leftist president – although analysts see him as pragmatic and do not predict a re-edition of the times of Cristina Fernández – and other members, such as Peru, Ecuador or Chile, will now focus on their internal problems.

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