Two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles was not part of the political violence “coordinated” by two other leaders of the Venezuelan opposition, Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez said Tuesday.
Citing an unnamed informant, the minister told state television that Capriles rejected the plans hatched by Leopoldo Lopez and lawmaker Maria Corina Machado.
Lopez, the leader of the Popular Will party, has been held in a military jail in Caracas since Feb. 18, six days after the first three deaths - out of 29 total that have occurred to date - in the anti-government protests.
Machado and Lopez outlined their strategy in Feb. 10 and 11 meetings with Capriles and other prominent opposition figures, Rodriguez said.
He said the unnamed informant, dubbed “Source A1,” attended the second gathering, which took place at a Caracas hotel.
“Source A1 informed us that it was then that Capriles left and said he was going because he was not going to support that crazy man, referring to Leopoldo Lopez, who was proposing setting the cities on fire,” Rodriguez said.
The 29 fatalities associated with the protests include both opponents and supporters of the leftist government, as well as bystanders and members of the security forces.
Authorities have charged more than a dozen police and soldiers with violating the human rights of demonstrators.
President Nicolas Maduro maintains that the protests are part of a plan orchestrated by the United States to seek his death and removal from power.
Lopez, who has been formally charged with arson and causing property damage, as well as with criminal conspiracy and instigating violence, denies committing any crime and from prison has called on his followers to remain out on the streets but not to resort to violence.