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Wives, mother of jailed Venezuelan opposition leaders chained in Vatican protest

By Andrew V. Pestano
Mitzy de Ledezma (L), Lilian Tintori (C) and Antonieta Mendoza (R) chained themselves on Sunday in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City to ask for Pope Francis' help in winning the release of Venezuela's political prisoners. The protest precedes political crisis negotiations between the Venezuelan opposition and President Nicolas Maduro's regime that will be mediated by the Vatican. Photo courtesy Lilian Tintori
Mitzy de Ledezma (L), Lilian Tintori (C) and Antonieta Mendoza (R) chained themselves on Sunday in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City to ask for Pope Francis' help in winning the release of Venezuela's political prisoners. The protest precedes political crisis negotiations between the Venezuelan opposition and President Nicolas Maduro's regime that will be mediated by the Vatican. Photo courtesy Lilian Tintori

VATICAN CITY, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The wives and mother of jailed Venezuelan opposition leaders chained themselves in the Vatican's St. Peter's Square to plea for Pope Francis' help.

Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López's wife, Lilian Tintori; his mother, Antonieta Mendoza; and former mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma's wife, Mitzy de Ledezma, chained themselves at the gates of the Vatican's St. Peter's Square on Sunday in a plea for Pope Francis' help in winning the release of political prisoners held under Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's regime.

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"We are here for the freedom of my husband, Leopoldo López, and all Venezuelan political prisoners," Tintori said.

López is the former mayor of Caracas' Chacao municipality who was sentenced last year to nearly 14 years in prison on charges that included conspiracy. Ledezma, the former mayor of Caracas, was charged with conspiracy last year.

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There are 106 political prisoners in Venezuela, the opposition said.

"For the freedom of all: Leopoldo López, Antonio Ledezma and all the boys, mothers and wives who suffer from the immense pain of unjustly imprisoning our loved ones, for the freedom of Venezuela," Mitzy de Ledezma said during the protest.

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The women are members of the Families of Venezuelan Victims -- a committee for political prisoners' relatives to take on Maduro's regime. As of early Monday, the ladies were no longer chained -- instead located on a different part of St. Peter's Square where they hold prayer sessions.

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The protest precedes political crisis negotiations between the Venezuelan opposition and Maduro's regime mediated by the Vatican scheduled to begin Tuesday.

"We have faith that the Vatican is going to help us fulfill what all Venezuelans want," Mendoza said.

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