CARACAS — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Saturday that a police manhunt was under way for Leopoldo Lopez, the opposition leader behind anti-government demonstrations that ended with three deaths.
The socialist president's announcement was made amid dueling pro-government and student-led opposition demonstrations held in different parts of the capital, Caracas.
Lopez “ordered all these violent kids, which he trained, to destroy the prosecutor's office and half of Caracas and then goes into hiding,” Maduro told thousands of supporters at a rally to denounce what he called a U.S.-backed “fascist” plot to oust him from power.
“Turn yourself in, coward,” he said.
The president said security forces acting on a Feb. 12 arrest order are looking for Lopez, who has not been seen since a Wednesday night news conference in which he vowed that anti-government street protests would continue.
Maduro did not mention Lopez by name, referring to him only by a frequently used disparaging nickname, “The Throne,” to denote what he considers the Harvard-trained politician's haughty political ambitions.
Still, his comments seemed to confirm a report on Thursday by local newspaper El Universal, which published what it said was a leaked copy of an arrest order for Lopez on charges ranging from vandalism of public property to terrorism.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.