Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who turned himself in to security forces Tuesday, has been arrested on false charges, says political commentator and consultant Dick Morris, who also revealed to Newsmax that Lopez is a client of his.
"He's a very young, active guy in his mid, late-30s, looks like a kid, and has survived several assassination attempts, and now he's been arrested on phony charges," Morris told John Bachman on Newsmax TV's "America's Forum."
Lopez was wanted on charges of inciting violence
during recent street protests that left at least four people dead.
"They're saying he incited the demonstrations. The cops killed some people, so they're indicting him for murder," Morris said.
Before he turned himself in, Lopez denied the charges, saying, "I present myself to an unjust judiciary. They want to jail Venezuelans who want peaceful, democratic change."
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Indeed, Morris said, the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is behind much of the anti-American feeling in the region.
"The important thing to understand about Venezuela is that it is the hub of anti-American sentiment in Latin America that, right now, controls Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Bolivia, and has a strong influence over Brazil and Argentina, and it's really the epicenter of anti-American feeling," Morris said.
"And when Chavez died, this guy Maduro stepped into the vacuum, but his economic policies are ludicrous. Like, a year ago, they put price controls on milk, and the result was everybody made cheese. So you couldn't buy baby formula, but you could buy brie. But now there's a real effort to get rid of him. This is terribly important, and if we succeed, it will free most of Latin America."
One of the factors in Venezuela's power, Morris noted, is its vast oil reserves. "Bear in mind that the 1.3 million barrels a day that Venezuela pumps of oil, largely sells to the U.S., funds all of these anti-American regimes," he said.
"The other thing is they recently set up a flight, a daily flight, or three times a week, from Caracas to Tehran and back. It never carries any passengers. Nobody ever flies that route, but it's bulging with cargo, and people suspect that that's arms coming from Iran to Venezuela."
That raises concerns about the South American country becoming a training ground for more terrorists, says former Republican Rep. Allen West of Florida, who joined Morris for the Newsmax discussion on the violence simultaneously sweeping Venezuela and Ukraine.
"It has already happened as far as the relationship between Venezuela and Iran, and when you have these unstable situations, you will always find that radical Islamic terrorists will somehow find their way to come in and get a stronger foothold," West said.
"And the last thing we need are Iranian Revolutionary Guards or al-Quds or Hezbollah elements that are supporting the Venezuelan government against the people there."
West, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, agreed that also put the continent, not to mention the United States, at risk. "You're right, Dick, this can metastasize all across Latin America, South America, Central America," he said.
"And don't forget we have a very, very big Venezuelan community right here in South Florida down in Broward County in western Florida. So they're going to feel the effects of this as well," West added.
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