Venezuelan Opposition Leader Leopoldo López Sentenced to Almost 14 Years in Jail

Lead Photo: Leo Ramirez/AFP/Getty Images
Leo Ramirez/AFP/Getty Images
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Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López has been found guilty of stirring up violence during 2014 protests in Venezuela, where 43 were killed. López will serve almost 14 years in prison, according to the BBC. Since then, there have been cries from his supporters who protest that the trial was not fair. The BBC highlights some of the irregularities in the trial, including the fact that there were “138 witnesses for the prosecution but only one of the 50 witnesses and pieces of evidence submitted by the defence [sic].” López looked to prove his innocence with a video that was posted online to his official YouTube account, but El Comercio reports that the video went ignored during his trial.

López turned himself into police in February 2014, and has been held since. Those who oppose López accuse him of involvement in coups against the government. Meanwhile, his supporters see him as a scapegoat for President Nicolas Maduro and the problems Venezuela is facing. One of his loudest supporters is Fher Olvera. The day before he was sentenced, Maná performed in Bilbao, Spain, and Olvera spoke out against Maduro. Fher held a Venezuelan flag as he defended López, saying that he organized peaceful protests. Instead, he had criticism for the government. “This government embodies this phrase: ‘violence is ignorance’s last resort.’”

The Venezuelan government hasn’t responded to Olvera’s comments, but they did recently release an ad in The New York Times explaining their side of the story in their conflict with Colombia. Mostly, they took the time to point fingers at the U.S. “Never before in the history of our nations, has a president of the United States attempted to govern Venezuelans by decree,” the ad said. “It is a tyrannical and imperial order and it pushes us back into the darkest days of the relationship…”