Who is Leopoldo Lopez?

Venezuelan democrat is country's best-known political prisoner

Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez looks out from his cell in the military prison Ramo Verde, where he was held.
Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez looks out from his cell in the military prison Ramo Verde, where he was held.

CARACAS, Venezuela – Leopoldo Lopez, who was released from a Venezuelan prison and transferred to house arrest after spending about three years behind bars, is a Democratic leader and one of the most fierce opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

 He was reunited with his wife, Lilian Tintori, and his two children, Manuela and Leopoldo, on Saturday, after the Supreme Court ordered house arrest for humanitarian reasons related to his health.  

Lopez, 46, is a Kenyon College and Harvard graduate. The economist was sentenced to 13 years, nine months and seven days of prison after he was convicted of inciting violence during the anti-government protests of 2014. The protests left 43 dead and 3,000 injured. 

While at the military prison Ramo Verde, Lopez was able to release a video June 6. He called on members of the Venezuelan military to rebel against their superiors and refuse to participate in the "savage repression" of their fellow Venezuelans. 

After he was accused of inciting violence, he turned himself in Feb. 18, 2014. He was convicted of public incitement, property damage, arson and conspiracy. 

Lopez, who is the great-great grandson of Venezuela's first president, Cristobal Mendoza, developed a reputation as a political adversary of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013. 

Lopez started his career in public service as an adviser at PDVSA from 1996 to 1999. He ran for office after teaching at the Universidad Catolica Andres Bello for about a year. 

As the mayor of the municipality of Chacao from 2000 to 2008, Lopez projected an image of dynamism and efficiency. He had a 92 percent approval when he finished his second term.

Chavez banned him from running for public office in 2008 and accused of public corruption. Lopez co-founded the Popular Will party in 2009. In 2011, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights determined the Venezuelan government violated Lopez's rights. 

Lopez withdrew from the presidential election in 2012 and backed Henrique Capriles. 




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