Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Trump gives boost to protesters

Published:Sunday | February 19, 2017 | 2:00 AM
A woman holds up posters with the image of Venezuela's jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez during a protest demanding the release of Lopez and other jailed opposition leaders, in Madrid, yesterday.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP):

Hundreds of Venez-uelans marched yesterday to demand the release of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

The annual demonstration took on added urgency after United States President Donald Trump met with the activist's wife and his administration slapped drug sanctions on the country's vice-president.

One small group held up signs reading 'No More Dictatorship' and blocked traffic along CaraÁas' main highway as the opponents of President Nicolas Maduro gathered at different points throughout the capital and others in cities around the world to mark the third anniversary of Lopez's arrest.

The US State Department yesterday repeated Trump's call for Lopez's immediate release after meeting with the activist's wife in the Oval Office.

"We call for the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience, respect for the rule of law, the freedom of the press, the separation of constitutional powers within the government, and the restoration of a democratic process that reflects the will of the Venezuelan people," the State Department said in a statement.

Lopez last year was sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison for inciting violence during anti-government protests.

Venezuela's Supreme Court upheld the conviction last week in the face of widespread condemnation by many foreign governments and the United Nations, which consider Lopez a political prisoner.