June 17, 2014

Leopoldo López Calls for Unity Against Dictatorship

"The Public Prosecution's bases for imprisoning me are my speeches and my tweets - well now I reiterate them three times over. They can prosecute, imprison, and isolate me, but they will never quell my beliefs for a better Venezuela."

"To the Venezuelan people who want a change, I ask from the bottom of my heart that we do not lose hope of having a better Venezuela. The dictatorship wants to extinguish our hope; we cannot let that happen. Every day from my cell in Ramo Verde, I am full of hope and faith to fight against the dictatorship and achieve democracy."

- Leopoldo López,
June 8, 2014

From his jail cell in Ramo Verde military prison where he awaits a trial later this year, Venezuelan opposition leader and prisoner of conscience, Leopoldo López, called on all Venezuelans to unite against the Maduro dictatorship and meet the injustice they face with hope, fortitude and peaceful resistance. As revealed in a letter and exclusive interview in the days following his pre-trial hearing, Leopoldo remains steadfast in his decision to organize and participate in peaceful protests, and more determined than ever to fight for a democratic Venezuela.

A Rare Sighting

The hearing provided a rare opportunity for the world to see and hear Leopoldo since his arrest and imprisonment in February 2014. Pictures and an audio recording of Leopoldo delivering his defense were shared on major regional networks, including CNN en Español. The full transcript of his defense shows how Leopoldo deftly chipped away at the government's assertions.

Facing Injustice with Fortitude

Following the judgment to keep him in jail, Leopoldo sent a message of fortitude and commitment to building a "Better Venezuela." He called on all Venezuelans to maintain hope for change and to "confront the dictatorship until it is overthrown by popular, democratic and Constitutional means."

He also denounced the presiding Judge Adriana López for selling her conscience and giving into political pressure to silence opposition. The circumstances surrounding the conclusion of Leopoldo's hearing once again highlighted the corrupt legal process he is subjected to: immediately after Judge López received a call in the middle of the night, she ended the pre-trial hearing and ruled to keep him behind bars. This and other actions of the court have led the director of Human Rights Watch's Americas division José Miguel Vivanco to call Leopoldo "a prisoner of Maduro."

Waiting outside the Palace of Justice on a cement bench for the three-day charade was Leopoldo's wife Lilian Tintori. In an interview she reveals the harsh conditions Leopoldo faces and his ability to find mental strength and maintain spiritual growth despite his near total isolation.

A United Front

On the topic of the so-called dialogue between the opposition and Maduro regime, Leopoldo took a firm stand, noting that, "you cannot negotiate with dictators." Instead, he calls on all opposition parties to come together and form an assembly to remove Venezuela's corrupt officials.

"From Ramo Verde, I issue a humble call to the unity parties and all Venezuelans who want change so that we can create a wide front against the dictatorship. I send my best wishes to all of my fellow opposition leaders in the struggle."