Maduro Offers to Exchange Leopoldo Lopez for Puerto Rican Activist

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Sunday he would consider the release of the jailed far-right opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez if the United States agreed to release Oscar Lopez Rivera, a Puerto Rican nationalist currently held in a U.S. prison

By TeleSUR English
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Oscar Lopez Rivera was convicted in 1981 of seditious conspiracy for seeking to secure Puerto Rican independence. | Photo: indymedia.org
Oscar Lopez Rivera was convicted in 1981 of seditious conspiracy for seeking to secure Puerto Rican independence. | Photo: indymedia.org

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Sunday he would consider the release of the jailed far-right opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez if the United States agreed to release Oscar Lopez Rivera, a Puerto Rican nationalist currently held in a U.S. prison.

Leopoldo Lopez was arrested in February after he helped launch a three-month wave of violent opposition demonstrations seeking Maduro's ouster. Streets were blocked by violent masked protestors and dozens were killed, mostly at the hands of extreme right-wing terrorists.

Maduro suggested he could send Lopez to the United States if Washington secured the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera, who was convicted in 1981 of seditious conspiracy along with other militants who sought to secure Puerto Rican independence.

"The only way I would use (presidential) powers would be to put (Leopoldo Lopez) on a plane, so he can go to the United States and stay there, and they would give me Oscar Lopez Rivera — man for man," Maduro said during a televised broadcast.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Caracas said he had no immediate comment on the issue.

Negotiations between Uruguay and the U.S. are currently underway to release Lopez Rivera. Uruguayan President Mujica requested in an open letter to President Obama the release of the political activist.

Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla has also called on the White House to release the nationalist. The Puerto Rican singer Rene Perez, from the famous group Calle 13, has been vocal in his support of Lopez Rivera.