Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez arrives in Spain | Venezuela

The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed Lopez’s arrival after a year at the Spanish Ambassador’s residence in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez arrived in Madrid on Sunday, the Spanish Foreign Ministry said after spending the past year in the residence of the Spanish ambassador in Venezuela to escape house arrest.

“Leopoldo Lopez arrived in Madrid today to reunite with his family,” the ministry said in a statement.

Lopez’s decision to leave the Spanish embassy in Venezuela was “personal and voluntary”.

Lopez’s party, Popular Will, did not say how he left Venezuela.

Aides insisted the withdrawal was not the result of negotiations with the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, as many supporters and even opponents of the socialist government have speculated, according to The Associated Press.

Venezuela’s government accused Madrid’s envoy to Caracas of being an accomplice in Lopez’s “escape”.

“The head of the Spanish diplomatic mission in Venezuela was the main organizer and confessed to accomplices in … the escape of criminal Leopoldo Lopez from Venezuelan territory,” Maduro’s government said in a statement.

The Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez speaks to the media at the Spanish ambassador’s residence in 2019 [File: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]

“Decision not easy”

Lopez hinted in a series of tweets in the early hours of Sunday that he had left Venezuela but did not reveal his location.

“Venezuelans, this decision was not an easy one, but rest assured you can count on this servant to fight from anywhere,” tweeted Lopez.

“We will not rest and work day and night to achieve the freedom that all Venezuelans deserve.”

Lopez was jailed in 2014 after protests against Maduro. He was released from house arrest in 2017.

After house arrest, he was a mentor to opposition leader Juan Guaido, who appealed to the constitution for a provisional presidency earlier last year and launched a campaign to oust Maduro.

In April 2019, when Guaido tried to spark a military uprising against Maduro, Lopez reappeared on the streets next to him. When the uprising broke out, Lopez sought refuge first in the Chilean diplomatic residence and then in the house of the Spanish ambassador.

Lopez’s wife Lilian Tintori, who had joined him at the Spanish ambassador’s residence, traveled to Spain with her daughter in May 2019.