May 16, 2014

Harvard Kennedy School Bestows Alumni Achievement Award
Upon Venezuelan Prisoner of Conscience

Leopoldo Lopez Letter From Prison: "Venezuela's crisis is a priority for the world."

Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government Alumni Association will bestow the 2014 Alumni Achievement Award upon imprisoned Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez on Saturday, May 17, 2014.

Lopez has been held prisoner by the Venezuelan government since mid-February, when he led peaceful protests against government oppression. His wife, Lilian, will travel from Caracas to receive the award on Leopoldo's behalf. She will read a letter written by Leopoldo from his prison cell, in which he urges the global community to engage in resolving Venezuela's crisis:

"The resolution of Venezuela's crisis is a priority for the world. If abuse and injustice prevail with little consequence, it will send a terrible message to other dictators and would-be dictators of the world. You have an opportunity to send a far different message:  that the weight of the global community is on the side of human rights and dignity."

Lopez recalls in the letter that the values instilled in him as a student at the Kennedy School helped him make the courageous decision to peacefully turn himself in: "Even though my weeks in prison have now stretched into months and possibly far longer, the choice is worth it if it awakens the Venezuelan people - and the world - to the injustice that is taking place."

The Alumni Achievement Award was established in 1997 to recognize alumni more than six years into their careers who have significantly improved the human condition at the local, state/provincial, national, or international levels. Recipients must have made a substantial difference for people, organizations, or governments, whether by a single influential act or by a series of steps that produced positive change.

The event will be held at 10:30 am at the main Forum of the Littauer Building at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, 79 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.

More information about the Kennedy School's Alumni Achievement Award and past recipients can be found here.