Venezuela protest leader says seeks Maduro’s exit, not coup

By Peter Murphy CARACAS (Reuters) – Opposition political leader Leopoldo Lopez says he is seeking to draw millions of Venezuelans into the streets to join protests decrying corruption, crime and shortages in a nationwide push to bring down President Nicolas Maduro’s government. But Lopez, who is spearheading a protest campaign under the banner “The Exit,” denies accusations he is fomenting a coup similar to a botched attempt to oust then-President Hugo Chavez in 2002, saying he hopes to force Maduro into stepping down. The campaign against Maduro’s 10-month-old government has spurred small but rowdy demonstrations around Venezuela in the last several weeks, with some 20 protesters arrested. “In the street, we can send a message that we are here, we are alive, that we exist, that the government cannot succeed in ignoring more than half the country,” Lopez, 42, said in an interview at his party’s headquarters late on Tuesday.