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  • A composite image shows an picture from violent 2014 protests in Venezuela (L) and a poster of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez

    A composite image shows an picture from violent 2014 protests in Venezuela (L) and a poster of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez | Photo: Archive / Reuters

Published 13 August 2016

Leopoldo Lopez was found guilty of inciting violent protests that led to the deaths of 43 people.

A Venezuelan court has dismissed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez's appeal of a 14-year prison sentence for his role in violent anti-government protests two years ago that left 43 people dead.

The Distorted 'Democracy' of Leopoldo Lopez

Lopez's lawyer Juan Carlos Gutierrez shared the news that Lopez's appeal had failed in a tweet Friday.

The opposition leader is serving the sentence after a judge found the far-right opposition leader guilty of public incitement to violence and association to commit crimes in September 2015.

In early 2014, he called on his supporters to demonstrate in order to oust democratically-elected President Nicolas Maduro, in a strategy that Lopez called “The Exit.”

His supporters responded by staging violent protests, including one in front of the Office of the Attorney General led by Lopez himself.

The violent anti-government protests continued for weeks, with opposition demonstrators blocking roads and attacking those who attempted to remove their barricades. Protesters even strung up barbed wire across roads in order to decapitate passing motorcyclists.

Venezuela: Right-Wing Violence

The actions of demonstrators led to the deaths of 43 people, the vast majority of whom were state security officials or government supporters.

Lopez and his supporters maintain that he called for peaceful protests. However Lopez has dubious democratic credentials, having called for the ouster of Maduro by any means necessary and actively participating in a failed coup against former President Hugo Chavez in 2002.

Lopez has become a cause celebre among right-wing politicians throughout the world. However, Lopez’s aggressive strategies have been controversial even from within the opposition, leading to his partial isolation, as most moderate opposition sectors prefer not to be associated with his hardline tactics.

His supporters tried to have him released through the passage of a so-called amnesty law that was soundly rejected by the relatives of the victims of violence by right-wing demonstrators. The law was ruled unconstitutional by the Venezuelan Supreme Court.

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