Washington’s favorite Venezuelan opposition leader exposes links with Colombian paramilitary and narco networks
While the US and its allies glorify Leopoldo López as a new MLK, the US-backed Venezuelan opposition collaborates with Colombia’s narco-affiliated, death squad-sponsoring former President Álvaro Uribe.
by Ben Norton
Part 7 - Saving face in photo op with liberal Bogotá mayor
Leopoldo López’s meeting with Álvaro Uribe triggered condemnations from even staunch supporters of the Venezuelan opposition.
The avowedly anti-Chavista Americas director of the billionaire-funded US-based NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW), José Miguel Vivanco, lambasted López for the meeting, calling it a “grave mistake” that “does a lot of damage to his credibility.”
HRW has spent years heroizing the coup-plotting Venezuelan opposition leader, portraying López as a “prisoner of conscience” and “Venezuela’s most prominent political prisoner” before he was released in a failed coup attempt on April 30, 2019.
Vivanco is closely allied with far-right forces across Latin America, and has aggressively lobbied for US sanctions on Venezuela and Nicaragua. But López’s friendly chat with Uribe was even too much for him.
Facing mounting criticism over his radical antics, and desperate to save face, Leopoldo López sought out a photo-op with the liberal mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López, in what Latin American media outlets referred to as a “surprise.”
Claudia López hails from Colombia’s centrist Green Alliance party. She is an open lesbian and supports progressive cultural policies, but is careful to never diverge from certain dogmas when regional politics are concerned, harshly criticizing Venezuela and other leftist governments in Latin America.
On December 17, the mayor held an event in Bogotá featuring Leopoldo López alongside Venezuelan migrants. She praised the Venezuelan opposition leader, saying, “It makes me happy to see him free.”
In her tweet, Claudia López also went out of her way to demonize Venezuela’s democratically elected government as a “dictatorship”.
The photo-op was clearly aimed at papering over Leopoldo’s extreme-right image, portraying him as a supporter of political pluralism who can make common cause with liberals. For Claudia López, it was a way of reassuring conservative critics that she would faithfully line up against revolutionary left-wing forces in the region.
But it was not enough to deflect from the ultimate agenda of Leopoldo López. His trip represented the open consolidation of an alliance between the putschist forces under his control and a Colombian government intimately intertwined with drug trafficking and criminal networks, both hellbent on crushing the leftists in their midst.