Venezuela’s Leopoldo Lopez says he met generals during house arrest

Lopez spoke to reporters outside the Spanish ambassador's residence in Caracas.
CNN  — 

Leading Venezuelan opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez claims he met high-ranking members of the Venezuelan security services while under house arrest.

Speaking to journalists at the gates of the Spanish ambassador’s residence in Caracas, Lopez said senior members of the military supported the end of the regime of President Nicolas Maduro.

Lopez, who has been in some form of detention since a series of mass protests in 2014, said he believed Maduro’s government would fall “in weeks.”

After months under house arrest, Lopez appeared in public on Tuesday alongside his successor as leader of the opposition movement, Juan Guaido, who led a street-level uprising aimed at toppling Maduro.

The uprising faltered, having apparently failed to gain the support of senior members of the Venezuelan military, and Lopez took refuge in the Spanish ambassador’s residence.

Lopez said he had met military commanders while being detained. “I had meetings in my house when I was under house arrest. I met there with commanders, I met there with generals. I met there with representatives of specific parts of the armed forces and specific parts of the police forces,” he said, without identifying the figures.

He added that the people he met with made a “commitment” to ending the “usurpation” of President Maduro. Opposition supporters refer to Maduro’s continued hold on power as a “usurpation.”

Lopez claimed members of the military had assisted in his escape from house arrest, claiming they had pardoned him.

On Thursday a court in Caracas issued a warrant for his arrest, declaring he had “flagrantly” violated his home detention. A court statement said that he should continue to serve a 13-year sentence imposed in 2014.

However, the Spanish government said it had “no intention” of surrendering Lopez. In a short statement Thursday, the Spanish government also said Lopez, his wife and daughter were in the residence of the Spanish ambassador “of their own will.”

The statement ended saying that “Spain trusts that the Venezuelan authorities will respect the inviolability of the Spanish Ambassador’s residence.”

Lopez’s house was raided Wednesday night by “delinquents,” his wife, Lilian Tintori, said Thursday in a series of tweets accompanied by pictures.

Guaido, President of the National Assembly, who is recognized as Venezuela’s interim president by dozens of countries, has led the opposition to Maduro in recent years. However Lopez has remained a key figure in the anti-Maduro opposition since his 2014 arrest on charges of inciting violence.

In 2015, he was jailed for nearly 14 years, a sentence that became a rallying cry for anti-regime demonstrators. In July 2017, authorities granted him house arrest due to concerns about his health.

CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Julia Jones, CNNE’s Florencia Trucco, and journalist Stefano Pozzebon contributed to this report.