US Senator Circulates Bogus Health Rumour on Venezuela’s Lopez

US Senator Marco Rubio joined a handful of right-wing Venezuelans in sharing a fake story about imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
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Leopoldo Lopez appeared late Wednesday on state media to confirm he is alive and well. This came amid claims he was in a critical condition in a military hospital. (VTV Screen Capture)
Leopoldo Lopez appeared late Wednesday on state media to confirm he is alive and well. This came amid claims he was in a critical condition in a military hospital. (VTV Screen Capture)

Puebla, Mexico, May 4, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – US Senator Marco Rubio joined a handful of right-wing Venezuelans in sharing a fake story about imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

In a tweet Wednesday night, Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio told his 2.3 million followers Lopez had been hospitalised for unknown reasons.

“I have confirmed @leopoldolopez has been taken to a military hospital in #Venezuela in very serious condition,” he tweeted.

Rubio has long been a staunch supporter of Venezuela’s right-wing, and his post was shared 18,000 times.

The tweet appeared to be in response to allegations made by Venezuelan journalist Leopoldo Castillo. Earlier in the day, Castillo claimed Lopez had been removed from his cell at the Ramo Verde prison and rushed to a military hospital without life signs.

Lopez’s wife, Lilian Tintori, later said she visited the military hospital. When she arrived, she said staff wouldn’t share any information about her husband’s status. In response, Rubio again took to Twitter, where he lamented Tintori had been “denied information” on Lopez.

However, it was subsequently revealed that Lopez was not ill, nor had he been admitted to the military hospital. Instead, the claims that Lopez was ill were false, and he was still at Ramo Verde. To prove this, authorities released a video showing Lopez alive and well in his cell.

Broadcast on state media outlet VTV, the video showed Lopez with prison bars behind him.

"This is a proof of life message for my family. Today is May 3. It's 9 pm," he said.

He continued, "This is a message for Lilian. I don't understand the reason why I am to give a proof of life at this moment. I send this message to my family, to my children and I am telling them that I am well."

The video can be seen below.

VTV host and United Socialist Party Vice-President Diosdado Cabello dismissed the entire story of Lopez’s hospitalisation as a propaganda “invention” of the opposition.

“The monster of Ramo Verde hasn’t gone anywhere … he’s still there in his cave, and will be for the next 13 years,” he said.

Lopez was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment in 2015 for his role in a wave of anti-government violence the previous year. The violence left more than 40 people dead, with most of the casualties being government supporters, members of state security forces, and innocent bystanders.