HKS Alumnus and Opposition Leader Leopoldo López Arrested in Caracas

February 20, 2014
By Mari Megias, Alumni Relations and Resource Development

“I’m signing off. Thank you, Venezuela. Change is in each of us. We will not surrender. I will not do it!”

This was the last Tweet written by Leopoldo López MPP 1996 before he turned himself in to government forces in Caracas. The HKS alumnus is at the center of a battle for the future of his native country Venezuela, which is experiencing soaring crime, a scarcity of basic goods, and an inflation rate of 56 percent.

A leading opponent of former president Hugo Chavez and his successor, Nicolás Maduro, López surrendered to governmental authorities February 18 to answer to charges of inciting violence by encouraging street protests against Maduro’s government. When he turned himself in, he brought with him a petition that demanded a complete investigation of the government's role in the deaths that occurred during the continuing protests.

In a video message (view below) recorded before his arrest, López, who appears on camera with his wife, says he has no regrets about the protests and marches that are taking place throughout Venezuela. “The people have awoken. Venezuela, more than anything, needs each of us to commit to change.”

Read and watch more about the crisis in Venezuela:

Leopoldo López, the Charismatic Face of Venezuela's Opposition
BloombergBusinessweek — With the Venezuelan tricolor flag draped around his suntanned neck, opposition leader Leopoldo López, 42, stood atop the statue of José Martí in the Chacaíto neighborhood of eastern Caracas, finishing his seven-minute speech to a crowd of tens of thousands of cheering supporters.

After reminding them that they are fighting for “the young, the students … the entire people of Venezuela” and calling for a “nonviolent struggle of the masses,” he took his leave, shouting into a handheld mic, “Very soon, we will have a free and democratic Venezuela! God bless you!”

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