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Luisa Ortega has transformed from government loyalist to powerful opposition voice

Gideon Long in Caracas

Luisa Ortega would seem an unlikely figure to spearhead opposition to Venezuela’s unpopular president Nicolás Maduro.

For most of the 10 years she has served as attorney-general, the 59-year-old lawyer has been a loyal servant to the state apparatus, sentencing several government opponents to jail terms, including Leopoldo López, one of the country’s most popular politicians, who remains behind bars.

But this year, Ms Ortega has re-invented herself. Since the protests against the Maduro regime began in late March, she has become the single most potent voice speaking out against the government from within the ranks of “Chavismo”, the socialist movement founded by the country’s late leader Hugo Chávez.