You might not have been following news about this rich oil country located in South America going through an economical debacle after 15 years of a so called “revolution” led by Hugo Chavez you must not have heard about the fearless opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.
He is the founder and Nationwide Coordinator of a social movement and political party called Voluntad Popular (translated as Common Will). Followed by many of thousands of activists, Voluntad Popular promotes a peacemaking message of non-violence confrontation, progress and prosperity. Leopoldo Lopez and his political party are committed to build a governmental system where all Venezuelans have the same opportunities regardless of the political ideology they support.
On September 10th, Leopoldo Lopez, was sentenced 13 years and 9 months in prison for the charges of conspiracy to overthrown the state, crime incitation and damage to public property. The Venezuelan Government accused Lopez alleging that his speeches promoting non-violence confrontation encouraged people to act violently. In other words, he is being locked in jail because he exposed the level of corruption and repression the government is inflicting in their citizens but further more for rebelling against the regime. This is why Leopoldo Lopez is called now The Venezuelan Mandela.
Lopez, 44 years old, came in the political scene at a time where the Venezuelan people needed an innovative form of leadership where citizens were empowered to fight for their rights instead of being bribed for electoral reasons. For a long time, Venezuelans were longing for a leader that consolidated his influence by being a moral example and practicing what he preached. That is exactly what Leopoldo Lopez did, he became the moral symbol for a hopeless society at expenses of being incarcerated.
On September 25th, The New York Post published an article written by Lopez after his imprisonment that shout loud to the world what the government have been trying to hide. According to Lopez “The judgement against me is intended to send a message to all Venezuelans who strive for a better country that, unless they desist and concede to the regime, they will be next. Our government wants to crush our aspirations and make us believe that this fight is hopeless. They want us to surrender. But we cannot afford to surrender, for he who tires, loses.” (The New York Post, 2015).
Leopoldo Lopez became the most trusted and respected leader from the opposition party by deeply understanding and developing higher levels of empathy around the economic and social problems Venezuelans face in their everyday life. In a country with a three digit inflation and basic goods scarcity surviving has gotten very challenging. According to Lopez: “The desperation these conditions have created, paired with widespread failures of law enforcement, has made ours one of the most violent countries in the world, with nearly 25,000 murders in 2014 alone.” (The New York Post, 2015).
Venezuela is going through tough times where leaderships are being put to the test and citizens are raising the bar by demanding more transparency and moral values to their political leaders. Freedom might not be around the corner for Lopez or for Venezuelans but with such an important leader locked in jail for unjust reasons there is no room for surrender. They must prevail to conquer. Leopoldo Lopez is a guarantee that such a thing doesn’t happen. By sacrificing he is keeping the hope alive.
Lopez L. (2015, Sept 25), New York Post: Even in Jail I will fight for a free Venezuela Retrieved September 28, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/25/opinion/even-in-jail-i-will-fight-