||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (April 2014)|
|National Coordinator of Voluntad Popular|
5 December 2009
|Mayor of Chacao|
30 July 2000 – 9 December 2008
|Preceded by||Cornelio Popesco|
|Succeeded by||Emilio Graterón|
29 April 1971 |
|Political party||Voluntad Popular|
|Children||Manuela Rafaela López, Leopoldo Santiago López|
|Alma mater||Kenyon College
Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government
Leopoldo López Mendoza is a Venezuelan politician, currently serving as National Coordinator of Venezuelan political party Voluntad Popular, which he founded in 2009. Born in Caracas on 29 April 1971, he received a degree in Sociology and Economics from Kenyon College, and later Master of Public Policy from Harvard University. Lopez first ventured into politics in 2000 when he co-founded the political party Primero Justicia alongside Henrique Capriles Radonski and Julio Borges, and ran successfully for the mayorship of the Chacao Municipality in the regional elections held in July 2000. Lopez has received multiple awards for his honesty, efficiency, transparency and for his support of democracy.
Two years into his first term as mayor, in what the government called a failed coup d'état, López helped to temporarily remove then-President Hugo Chávez from office. According to Los Angeles Times, Lopez "orchestrated the public protests against Chávez and he played a central role in the citizen's arrest of Chavez's interior minister, Ramón Rodríguez Chacín." In 2008, when López planned to run for mayor of Caracas, the Venezuelan government took action to bar him from holding public office for the next six years.[dead link] As a result, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights sanctioned Chávez for violating the human rights of opposition candidates by disqualifying them from running, and in 2010 the court reached a unanimous decision in favour of Lopez.
López, who led the 2014 protests in Caracas, was arrested on 18 February under charges of arson, terrorism, and homicide. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other international human-rights groups condemned his arrest as politically motivated.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Business and academic career
- 3 Political life
- 4 Political platform
- 5 Awards
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Notes
- 8 External links
Early life and education
López was born in Caracas on 29 April 1971, into a wealthy family. He has two sisters, Diana and Adriana López.
López is a “political blue-blood,” in the words of The Guardian, who comes from “one of the most powerful families in Venezuela.” López' mother, Antonieta Mendoza, is the daughter of Eduardo Mendoza Goiticoa, who was Secretary of Agriculture for two years during the Rómulo Betancourt years that lasted from 1945 to 1948. Through her, López is the great-great-great-grandson of the country's first president, Cristóbal Mendoza. López is also the great-great-grand nephew of Simón Bolívar. Bolivar's sister, Juana Bolivar, is López's great-great-great-great-grandmother, making him one of Bolívar's few living relatives. His great-uncle Rafael Ernesto López Ortega was Minister of Education during the presidency of López Contreras. His grandfather Leopoldo López Ortega and great-uncle Rafael Ernesto López Ortega were both doctors, founders of the Centro Medico of San Bernardino in Caracas.
He studied at the Colegio Santiago de León de Caracas and graduated from the Hun School of Princeton. He graduated from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio in 1993, where he received a degree in Sociology. He subsequently attended Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government where he obtained a Master of Public Policy in 1996. In 2007, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Kenyon. In May 2007 he married Lilian Tintori, with whom he had a daughter in 2009 followed by a son in 2013. According to The Guardian, Lopez comes from "one of the most powerful families in Venezuela."
A high-school friend of López’s, HLN anchor Susan Hendricks, described him as having a winning personality during his student years. A college friend, Rob Gluck, said in 2014 that during their student days López had founded a student group called Active Students Helping the Earth Survive. Responding to government characterizations of López, Gluck said: “Calling Leo rightwing is like calling Maya Angelou a racist. It is bizarre. It is the ultimate Orwellian exercise in doublespeak.”
In 1989, López told the student newspaper at the Hun School, The Mall, that “Being away from home created an awakening of the responsibility I have towards the people of my country. I belong to one percent of the privileged people, and achieving a good education will hopefully enable me to do something to help my country.” A fellow student described him as being “very good at getting people psyched” on the swimming and crew teams, and added: “I am sure these qualities will help him lead Venezuela out of the third world some day.” The article noted that López, after graduating from Kenyon, hoped to attend graduate school, and then return to his country “where he hopes to go into politics and improve Venezuela.”
Business and academic career
López worked first as an analyst and consultant, and then eventually as the chief economist to the Planning Vice-President in Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) between 1996 and 1999, and has served as a professor of Institutional Economy in the Economics Department at Universidad Católica Andrés Bello.
“I decided between a stable job and politics,” López told a reporter in 2007. “And I chose politics. It was an irrational idea driven by faith.”
López cofounded the political party Primero Justicia in 1992. He led demonstrations against Hugo Chávez in the days before the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt. This is considered by some to have been a legitimate protest and by others as having "crossed the line into insurrection by trying to bring down a democratically elected president." During the coup, he took part, along with Capriles, in the citizen's arrest of Chávez's interior minister, Ramón Rodríguez Chacín.
López was elected mayor of Chacao in 2000 with 51% of the vote, and re-elected in 2004 with 81%; the Los Angeles Times described him in 2006 as "[i]mmensely popular in his district." He was praised by constituents “for revamping the public health system and building new public spaces” During his mayoralty, he introduced TransChacao, a public-transport system credited with greatly improving transport in Chacao.  His term of office also saw the opening of the Juan de Dios Guanche school, considered “the most modern public school built in the country during the last 20 years,”  and the Centro Deportivo Eugenio Mendoza,  a sports center. Under López, work began on several major construction projects, including the Palos Grandes plaza, the new seat of the Mercado Libre, a new headquarters for the Andrés Bello Education Unit, and a massive underground parking facility. Chacao’s new market was described as the most modern in Latin America. 
López was awarded third place in the 2008 World Mayor Project. The City Mayors Foundation, which promotes good urban governance, has written that “It would be easy to caricature him as the scion of the country’s wealthy elite, standing in the way of Chávez’ social justice crusade. But López’ record on activism has shown a commitment to promoting legal equality and his constituents speak passionately about a mayor who has delivered on public services and funding new infrastructure.”  During his mayoralty, López also won first-prize awards from Transparency International in both 2007 and 2008 for running the country’s most honest and efficient municipal administration. Mercedes De Freitas, executive director of Transparency’s Venezuelan chapter, said that for the second consecutive year López had been a national model for running a “participatory and efficient public administration.”
López’s reformist efforts and anti-chavista activism led to several kidnapping and assassination attempts. In 2006, “armed pro-government thugs held him hostage for six hours.” “My best friend died in my arms during one of the assassination attempts,” he told a reporter in 2007. “The government basically told me, 'Oppose me, and there will be consequences.' An authoritarian government attacks you in three ways: legally, using processes without justice; physically, using murder and kidnap; and morally, by controlling all the television, newspaper and radio stations. They have used all three to try and stop my efforts….But politics is about hope, not about holding elected office.” He noted that “Forty percent of Chacao men between the ages of 14 and 30 usually die by fighting in the streets. Seventeen thousand are murdered per year….We need to develop programs for these men, providing sports and culture to eliminate the violence.”
“With the emergence of Zulia state governor Manuel Rosales as Hugo Chávez’ principal challenger in the 2006 presidential election,” according to one source, “López and several others from Justice First switched their allegiance to Rosales’ party, the social democratic A New Era (Un Nuevo Tiempo).
Mayor of Chacao (2000-2008)
Lopez was narrowly elected Mayor of Chacao on 30 July 2000 and was reelected mayor in October 2004 with 81% of votes.
Soon after his election, he undertook a project to reorganize the municipal police force, increase security, and reduce violence in the city. The mayor of neighboring Caracas, Alfredo Peña had begun a similar campaign and hired current NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton to lead this project. Bratton, who had a reputation of successfully reducing petty and violent crime, accepted the offer. Within months the city's crime rate dropped significantly. Lopez, desiring a similar goal, approach Bratton with a similar offer. Bratton accepted and began reorganizing the Chacao Municipal Police, initially with excellent results. However, after a political falling out and the governments accusations of involvement in a coup in 2002, Chavez ordered the military to take control of all police forces and ousted Peña, ending the reforms put in motion.
Lopez led demonstrations against Hugo Chávez in the days before the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt. During the coup, he took part in the citizen's arrest of Chávez's interior minister Ramón Rodríguez Chacín.
Opposition leader: target of violence
The United States Department of State mentioned actions taken against López by the Venezuelan government in its 2005 annual Country Report on Human Rights Practices. In November 2005 López was suspended from future political activity after his term as mayor expires in 2008 over allegations of misuse of funds. According to the US State Department, the charges were part of "a strategy by the Chávez government to eliminate the political opposition". López said "his real offense is that he poses an electoral threat as he builds a social democratic alternative to the socialist, anti-American 'Bolivarian Revolution'."
According to the Los Angeles Times, Chávez critics say all government dissidents are being targeted, but "Lopez seems to be the object of a full-out campaign". His aunt was also a victim of violence in Venezuela, shot during a peaceful rally.
As a leader of the opposition, López says he has experienced several violent attacks: the Los Angeles Times wrote that he had been shot at and was held hostage in February 2006 by armed thugs at a university where he was speaking and that his bodyguard was shot while sitting in the passenger seat of the car where López normally sits. The Times continued that "the killing of his bodyguard was meant to send a message". According to Jackson Diehl, writing for the Washington Post, in June 2008, after López returned from a visit to Washington, D.C., he was detained and assaulted by the state intelligence service. A member of the Venezuelan National Guard, a military corp under the command of Hugo Chávez, denounced López as responsible for the aggression and presented a video as evidence.
Allegations of corruption & Ban from holding office
In an April 2008 ruling announced by the nation’s comptroller general and then upheld by a court decision,López and several hundred other Venezuelans were barred from running in the November 2008 elections, supposedly for reasons of corruption; 80 percent of those barred belonged to the opposition. As the best-known banned politician, López contested the sanction, arguing that the right to hold elected office could only be rescinded in the wake of a civil or criminal trial. He claimed the government banned opposition candidates ahead of the November 2008 elections because it knew they could win.
“A court has ruled I cannot hold political office until 2014,” he said, “ensuring that I cannot stand for these elections, those of the national assembly in 2010, or for the presidency in 2012.” He charged, “The façade of democracy is crumbling.” The ban, he said, had been imposed “against millions of Venezuelan people, people who wanted and want change, and who will not give up on change….This decision wants to stop Venezuelans from having hope in change.” In an admiring 2008 profile of López entitled “The Rival Chávez Won’t Permit,” the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl described López as “a hyperarticulate” and “pragmatic center-leftist,” writing that while Chávez supporters “like to argue that there is no alternative to the Venezuelan caudillo other than the feckless and unpopular politicians who preceded him in the 1990s,” López, “represents a fresh generation,” singlehandedly refuted that “canard.”
In June 2008, López made his case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington, D.C., and met with then presidential candidate Barack Obama. “We are being obstructed,” he said in Washington, “because we can win. We have the votes and the government knows that. If it allows us in the race the myth that Chávez is the sole representative of the poor masses of Venezuela will be destroyed. So they are trying to force me out.” in July, the Commission agreed to hear his case and noted that the two years that had elapsed since López had filed a motion asking the Court to annul the ban constituted an "undue delay."
An April 2008 poll found that 52% of adults in Venezuela opposed the ban, and 51% thought it was politically motivated. The US State Department said the attempt to rule by decree was "worrisome"; Chávez responded by saying that such concerns were "overblown."
Although López and other opponents who had been accused of corruption were never tried or convicted, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal ruled in August 2008 that the sanction against López and others was constitutional. According to the Wall Street Journal, six of the seven Supreme Court justices "are sympathetic to the president." BBC News called the list of individuals barred from office a "blacklist," noting that "there is little that Mr López and others can now do that will allow them to take part in November's polls." The Economist observed that López is the "main apparent target" of the "decision by the auditor-general to ban hundreds of candidates from standing in the state and municipal elections for alleged corruption, even though none has been convicted by the courts.” The Wall Street Journal noted that the ban "has elicited comparisons to moves by Iran's government preventing opposition politicians from running in elections in that country" and singled López out as "a popular opposition politician who polls say would have a good chance at becoming the mayor of Caracas, one of the most important posts in the country."
The next day, López and others protested the ruling in a demonstration, until they were blocked in front of a government building. López led protesters on an unauthorized march through Caracas; riot police threw tear gas canisters into the crowd of about 1,000 marchers.
López filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission of the international Mercosur Parliament, on which Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay are represented, and on which Venezuela has observer status. Two members of the commission traveled to Caracas to investigate, but were unable to come to any conclusion because Venezuelan officials refused to meet with them. José Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch "described political discrimination as a defining feature of Mr. Chávez's presidency," singling out López and the "measure that disqualifies candidates from running for public office because of legal claims against them."
The Chávez administration, in accusing López of corruption, cited the fact that in 1998, while López was working for Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) and his mother was the company's manager of public affairs, it awarded a grant to the Primero Justicia Civil Association, an organization of which López was a member. (The political party Movimiento Primero Justicia emerged in 2000 as an offshoot of the association.) Diehl wrote that "the charges against López, never tested in court, are a blatantly bogus concoction."
The Associated Press reported that the use of the charges to disqualify López "is a tactic critics say Chavez uses to put his opponents' political ambitions on indefinite hold." The Organization of American States cited the case against López as one of the "factors that contribute to the weakening of the rule of law and democracy in Venezuela." López challenged these claims by stating that none of those punished had been charged, prosecuted and found guilty through due process of law, in direct violation of treatises signed by the Venezuelan government and the Venezuelan constitution.
The government of Venezuela maintains that the sanctions were legal. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights published on 16 September 2011 a unanimous decision, ruling that Lopez "should be allowed to run for office", regardless of the previous ban imposed by the Chavez administration. The Carter Center equated Venezuela's Supreme Court decision to disregard the Inter-American Court of Human Rights' decision to the military courts of Alberto Fujimori: "We note with concern that to our knowledge, with the exception of the military courts rulings during the Fujimori regime, this is the only country in the hemisphere where the merits rulings of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights have been rejected by the Supreme Court in expressly declaring them non-binding and unenforceable."
The government of Venezuela refused to comply with the court ruling, and Lopez remained banned from office.
On 5 December 2009, in the Valencia forum in Carabobo, López launched Voluntad Popular. Reporting on the launch, the AP stated that "the mere fact that López's efforts are resonating with ordinary Venezuelans shows that the democratic spirit still burns in the nation of 28 million." López said of the movement, "What we want is to build a new majority from the bottom up - not just through negotiations and agreements between elites. It's a longer road, but for us, it's the only road that gives us possibilities of winning." The Associated Press called López "the man who is challenging President Hugo Chávez's grip on power." In an online Q&A with readers, López described Voluntad Popular as “a social and political, pluralistic and democratic movement” that stood for “the rights of all Venezuelans.”
In a 2010 article for the Huffington Post, López described his country’s just-completed elections, in which 52% of voters supported “alternative candidates” and 48% supported Chávez’s PSUV, as marking “the first step toward building a future that is democratic, inclusive and hopeful.” Yet he noted that while the PSUV had won only 48% of the votes, it held 60% of the seats in parliament – a reflection, he said, of “the damage that has been done to our democratic systems by the ruling government.” Venezuela, he argued, was “now at a major inflection point, teetering between two possibilities: Cuban-style authoritarianism mixed with economic and social deterioration, or a new path of democratic and economic vitality.” Citing the country’s “deteriorating” infrastructure, he wrote that “When a global oil power that spends tens of billions abroad can't keep the lights on at home, people draw their own conclusions.”
2014 protests in Venezuela
The Economist noted in February 2014 that while Henrique Capriles headed the moderate wing of Democratic Unity (MUD), the alliance of Venezuelan opposition parties, López headed “the more confrontational wing.” While both wings preached nonviolence, López, unlike Capriles, “believes that demonstrations can prompt a change of government.” The Guardian wrote in the same month that López and Capriles have “long had a rivalry as well as a friendship,” but that López had now “proved himself the more dynamic of the duo,” with Capriles shaking Maduro’s hand after losing the December 2013 elections while López started ‘La Salida’ (The Exit), a movement “which aims to unseat the president through protests.”
On 12 February of that year, Venezuelan prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for López on charges including instigation of delinquency, public intimidation, arson of a public building, damage to public property, severe injury, "incitement to riot", homicide, and terrorism. The day after the warrant was issued, López address Maduro via Twitter, saying, "Don't you have the guts to arrest me? Or are you waiting for orders from Havana? I tell you, the truth is on our side."
In a late-night nationally televised broadcast on February 16, according to Reuters, “Maduro told López to hand himself in ‘without a show,’ and said he had rejected pressure from Washington to drop the case against him.” Maduro “said he had ordered three U.S. consular officials to leave the country for conspiring against his government,” and declared: “Venezuela doesn't take orders from anyone!”
On February 18, López turned himself in to the Guardia Nacional (National Guard) in the presence of thousands of cheering supporters, who, like him, wore white as a symbol of nonviolence. He gave a short speech in which he said that he hoped his arrest would awaken Venezuela to the corruption and economic disaster caused by socialist rule. The only alternative to accepting arrest, he said, standing on a statue of Jose Marti, was to “leave the country, and I will never leave Venezuela!” Hours after the arrest, Maduro addressed a cheering crowd of supporters in red, saying that he would not tolerate "psychological warfare" by his opponents and that López must be held responsible for his "treasonous acts." López’s wife told CNN that night “that López was in good spirits behind bars” and added: “The last thing he told me was don't forget why this is happening, don't forget why he's going to jail. He's asking for the liberation of political prisoners and students and an end to repression and violence.”
On February 20, Supervisory Judge Ralenis Tovar Guillén, issued a pre-trial detention order against López in response to formal charges of “arson of a public building,” “damages to public property,” “instigation to commit a crime,” and “associating for organized crime,” leveled by Franklin Nieves. The arraignment hearing hearing at which López was formally charged, and at which it was decided to keep him incarcerated pending trial, took place inside a military bus parked outside the prison, a process described by Gutierrez as “very unorthodox.” CNN reported that López, if found guilty, “could face up to 10 years in prison.”
López was denied bail and is being held in a the Ramo Verde military prison outside of Caracas. During a visit by his wife, López gave her a handwritten note that quickly went viral on social networks. “I'm fine,” he wrote to his supporters, whom he urged “not to give up” and “to stay firm against violence, and to stay organised and disciplined. This is everyone's struggle.” While in prison, his family visited him every week being only allowed to stay for a few hours and deliver lunch. They had to undergo strict searches by guards. López grew a beard and began learning how to play the cuatro. López, a devout Catholic, was not allowed to attend mass or have a priest visit but has been allowed to have an hour of exercise outside each day. In a July 2014 press release, Lopez' wife stated that his visitation rights had been revoked and that he was now subject to psychological tortures including isolation.
“The charges brought against Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López,” maintained Amnesty International in a February 19 statement, “smack of a politically motivated attempt to silence dissent in the country.” Guadalupe Marengo, Amnesty International Americas Programme Deputy Director, called on Venezuelan authorities to “either present solid evidence to substantiate the charges against López or release him immediately and unconditionally….Currently, Amnesty International has not seen evidence to substantiate these charges. This is an affront to justice and free assembly.” Human Rights Watch said: "The Venezuelan government has openly embraced the classic tactics of an authoritarian regime, jailing its opponents, muzzling the media, and intimidating civil society." HRW further accused the Maduro government of blaming opposition leaders, including López, for violence.
The New York-based Human Rights Foundation declared López a prisoner of conscience on February 20 and joined many other international organizations in calling for his immediate release. “With López’s imprisonment and the brutally repressive tactics that police, armed forces, and paramilitary groups are using against his supporters, the Venezuelan state has lost any democratic façade it may have had,” said HRF chairman Garry Kasparov in a statement. “Maduro must understand that he cannot simply erase all of the opposition in the national assembly with the stroke of a pen and expect no complaints. And once they complain, he cannot simply call them fascists and shoot them down. Either Maduro releases López and calls for an honest dialogue with all of the opposition, or he must step down for the sake of all Venezuelans: both those who support chavismo and those who do not. Venezuela does not need an executioner willing to kill half of the country. Venezuela needs a president.”
López was set to be tried alongside four students, Marco Coello, Christian Holdack, Ángel González, and Demian Martin. He petitioned the court to release these students, who had been arrested in February. Judge Susana Barreiros ordered the release of all but Christian Holdack.
The Associated Press called López "the man who is challenging President Hugo Chávez's grip on power." On 5 December 2009 in the Valencia forum in Carabobo, López launched Voluntad Popular. The Associated Press reported of the launch, "the mere fact that Lopez's efforts are resonating with ordinary Venezuelans shows that the democratic spirit still burns in the nation of 28 million." López said of the movement, "What we want is to build a new majority from the bottom up - not just through negotiations and agreements between elites. It's a longer road, but for us, it's the only road that gives us possibilities of winning."
López made repeated statements similar to, "We here do not talk about infrastructure, quality of training, staffing of schools; we Venezuelans want to send our children to quality schools, where they can not only learn Spanish or math, but also acquire values and be formed as wholly complete beings".
He made a call to create grassroots groups, similar to a PTA, or a popular net (red popular), in every school to ensure the quality of schools and the education received by children and youth. "A people's net in every school."
López said, "... part of the solution is to have community organization and we can fix the situation of Venezuela only by promoting culture, sport and employment".
New York Times op-ed
On March 26, 2014, the New York Times published an op-ed by López under the headline “Venezuela’s Failing State.” Writing, as he explained, “from the Ramo Verde military prison outside Caracas,” López lamented that for the past fifteen years, “the definition of ‘intolerable’ in this country has declined by degrees until, to our dismay, we found ourselves with one of the highest murder rates in the Western Hemisphere, a 57 percent inflation rate and a scarcity of basic goods unprecedented outside of wartime.” This economic devastation, he added, “is matched by an equally oppressive political climate. Since student protests began on Feb. 4, more than 1,500 protesters have been detained, more than 30 have been killed, and more than 50 people have reported that they were tortured while in police custody,” thus exposing “the depth of this government's criminalization of dissent.”
Addressing his incarceration, López recounted that on February 12, he had “urged Venezuelans to exercise their legal rights to protest and free speech – but to do so peacefully and without violence. Three people were shot and killed that day. An analysis of video by the news organization Últimas Noticias determined that shots were fired from the direction of plainclothes military troops.” Yet after the protest, “President Nicolás Maduro personally ordered my arrest on charges of murder, arson and terrorism….To this day, no evidence of any kind has been presented.”
López explained that he was not alone in being imprisoned for political reasons. The previous week, the government had arrested the mayors of both San Cristóbal and San Diego. While some observers “believe that speaking out only antagonizes the ruling party -- inviting Mr. Maduro to move more quickly to strip away rights -- and provides a convenient distraction from the economic and social ruin that is taking place,” López argued that “this path is akin to a victim of abuse remaining silent for fear of inviting more punishment.” Moreover, “millions of Venezuelans do not have the luxury of playing the ‘long game,’ of waiting for change that never comes.” Therefore, it is important “to speak, act and protest,” and not “to become deadened to the steady abuse of rights that is taking place.” López called for justice for Maduro’s victims, for the disarming of paramilitary groups, for “an investigation into fraud committed through our commission for currency exchange,” and for “real engagement from the international community, particularly in Latin America.” He charged that while international human- rights organizations had been outspoken in condemning Maduro, many of Venezuela’s neighbors had responded to his actions with “shameful silence,” as had the Organization of American States., which represents nations in the Western Hemisphere.
- Kenyon College Honoris Causa Doctorate Law (2007)
- Premio Transparencia, to the most transparent city mayor of Venezuela, granted by the Venezuela branch of Transparency International (2007,2008)
- Third place, World Mayor Project, admired for being a "hands-on mayor as well as a national politician fighting for democratic openness and fairness in Venezuela" (2008)
- The Most Innovative People Award for Resiliancy from the Future Capitals World Summit (2009)
- Harvard University Alumni Achievement Award for the support of democracy and transparency in Venezuela (2014)
In May 2007 López married Lilian Tintori, with whom he had a daughter, Manuela Rafaela, in 2009 and a son, Leopoldo Santiago, in 2013. “The couple are sometimes mocked as Barbie and Ken for their perfect looks,” reported the Guardian in 2014, “but their tearful public parting before López handed himself over to the national guard” in February of that year “proved a powerful image on social networks.” The photograph, according to NPR, “cemented his place as the face of the opposition to the government of Nicolás Maduro,” indicating that López had taken Capriles’s place “as the symbolic head of the opposition.”
López is known to have a tattoo of Venezuela on his ankle.
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