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It was a well-publicised event: Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez had previously announced he was prepared to risk arrest and march through the streets of Caracas.

On Tuesday he voluntarily handed himself over to police but not before urging tens of thousands of anti-government protesters to remain firm.

“Don’t leave the streets…we must take up our right to protest but we must do it peacefully. Brother, I ask you and every Venezuelan who wants change…we must inform ourselves, gather ourselves…organise ourselves and hold non-violent protests,” said Lopez at a well attended rally in the Venezuelan capital.

Lopez is wanted on government charges of murder and “terrorism” but claims he is being made a scapegoat by President Nicolas Maduro.

At least four people have died during demonstrations against Maduro’s handling of the economy, corruption and product shortages.

But there is no sign the socialist leader who replaced the late Hugo Chavez is lacking support among Venezuela’s poor. They fear losing popular oil-funded welfare programmes should Maduro lose power.


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