By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- Lilian Tintori, the pregnant wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez who met in January with US President Donald Trump has been charged Friday with holding about $10,000 in cash "illegally."
Tintori, who is pregnant with her third child with Lopez, was charged by the office of Maduro-imposed Attorney General Tarek William Saab the day after Maduro went on live television making fun of the explanation the activist gave for having 200 million bolivars in cash, that her grandmother was sick, after being detained with the money Tuesday night.
“Yeah, that’s a little money they had for granny,” Maduro said in mocking tones Thursday night. Less than 24 hours later, Tintori (who was originally detained and let go) was charged with an offense. Public mockery before an arrest is not uncommon in Venezuela under Maduro, apparently a practice borrowed from Cuba.
Tintori told the web site of national newspaper “El Nacional” that she is sure this is a personal vendetta and not a legitimate case. “They are making a personal case of this, a scandal where there is none,” she was quoted as saying, while leaving the headquarters of the CICPC investigative police, Venezuela’s FBI equivalent.
She added: “I wish to clarify, the money in my SUV was cash meant for family emergencies and included in said emergencies was the hospitalization of my grandmother, who does not have insurance because she is 100 years old”.
“It is not a crime to have cash money. I am not a public official, I am a mother, wife and human rights activist,” Tintori added.
Hours after talking to “El Nacional” Tintori published a tweet in her official Twitter account: “The persecution of the dictatorship against our family continues. Nothing will stop our struggle for freedom, peace and democracy.”
A former extreme athlete and radio personality, Tintori has since her husband, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was jailed for 13 years for "subliminally" instigating violence, become a very high profile opposition activist: She was amongst the first foreign dignitaries to meet with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, an occasion the U.S. head of state used to demand the release of Lopez.
Months later -- and after 3 and half years in prison on bogus charges -- Lopez was sent from a military prison into house arrest, where he remains.
Maduro has tightened his control over Venezuela since imposing a Constituent Assembly, a supra-Constitutional body not recognized by the opposition nor 61 nations around the world, including the USA and Europe.