Venezuelan opposition leader in jail
Venezuela's opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez (C), wanted on charges of fomenting deadly violence, walks through a demonstration of his supporters opposed to the government of Nicolas Maduro in Caracas February 18, 2014. Lopez, a 42-year-old U.S.-educated economist who has spearheaded a recent wave of protests in Venezuela, handed himself over to security forces on Tuesday, Reuters witnesses said. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins (VENEZUELA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Photo by REUTERS
CARACAS — Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez turned himself in to authorities on Tuesday to confront what he says are trumped-up homicide charges, but he urged supporters to stay in the streets and demonstrate peacefully against the government.
Speaking before a crowd of supporters in Caracas, Lopez said he would not flee Venezuela or go into hiding “because it would show we have something to hide.” Rather, he said he had decided to give himself up to “a corrupt justice system” and continue the fight for political change.
“Our youth have no jobs, no future because of this economic model that has failed,” Lopez said, referring to growing problems that include double-digit inflation, a rapidly devaluing currency and food scarcities.
He sent out a message from his Twitter account thanking supporters. “Change lies within each of us. Don't give up!” he wrote.
Earlier, an alliance of opposition parties said authorities were trying to prevent protesters from gathering in Caracas to march in support of Lopez, for whom an arrest warrant was issued in connection with last week's bloody demonstrations that killed three and wounded dozens.
Protesters reported on social media that police and national guard units had set up blockades at several points in the city and were telling them they would not be allowed through to the march's start point.
Caracas and other Venezuelan cities have witnessed rising unrest since Feb. 12, when student marches turned violent. Marchers claimed armed government vigilantes opened fire on them.
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