Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo López speaks outside the Spanish Embassy in Caracas on May 2, after seeking refuge at the mission. (Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images)

Prominent Venezuelan opposition activist Leopoldo López slipped across the border into Colombia on Saturday, political allies said, after more than a year inside the Spanish Embassy in Caracas following the failure of a plot to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro.

López’s escape, first reported by Spanish newspaper El Mundo, comes six weeks before Maduro-backed legislative elections denounced by Venezuela’s opposition.

The elections, scheduled for Dec. 6, will expand the size of the National Assembly and could threaten Guaidó’s position as the chamber’s president — a role that he has used to boost his political legitimacy.

The United States and more than 50 other countries have recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s rightful leader after widespread accusations that Maduro rigged his reelection in 2018.

“Leopoldo needs to guarantee international support to Guaidó,” said Nicmer Evans, a political analyst and former political prisoner. “Leopoldo needs to be present in the U.S. and in Europe to keep the recognition of Guaidó as leader of Venezuela.”

Evans said López also has a chance to “recover his leadership” and possibly take a higher-profile role in the opposition to Maduro.

López was arrested in 2014 and sentenced to almost 14 years after being found guilty of instigating anti-Maduro demonstrations. He was granted house arrest in 2017.

In April 2019, López took refuge in the Spanish Embassy after helping lead a failed effort to induce the military to turn against Maduro.