Venezuelan Opposition Leader Surrenders

Wanted on murder charges for role in protests that left three dead

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Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López handed himself in to government authorities Tuesday, after days of anti-government protests against President Nicolas Maduro.

López, a 42-year-old Harvard grad and politician, led a march of protestors in Caracas on Tuesday, even though he was wanted for arrest on murder charges for his role in the increasingly violent protests. He denies the accusations, and says he is being used as a scapegoat.

He had promised to turn himself in earlier in the week after one more protest, and stayed true to his word. “I have nothing to hide,” he said in a speech before handing himself over, Reuters reports. “I present myself to an unjust judiciary. They want to jail Venezuelans who want peaceful, democratic change.”

Protestors in Venezuela, many of them students, have rallied against the government for a litany of grievances including the struggling economy and high crime. Venezuela is facing inflation of over 50%, and demonstrators want Maduro to resign. The protests are getting violent, with at least three killed in the last week.

On Monday, the Venezuelan government accused three U.S. consular officials of conspiring with the opposition and expelled them from the country. The U.S. State Department denies the claims and is considering what actions  to take.

“The allegations against our diplomats by the Venezuelan government are baseless and false. ,” says State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, in a statement. “Our consular officers were conducting normal outreach activities at universities on student visas, which is something we do around the world as a way to improve the accessibility and transparency of the visa process.”