It works like this, in Venezuela. You cannot express your own opinion publicly if it involves positions against the regime. If you do, you have to be ready to leave your family, your home, the ones who follow you, to lose your children’s birthdays and soccer games, and wait. You just have to wait. Without being informed about your own condition, hoping you won’t get sick or you won’t receive the adequate cures and will be left dying in your narrow jail cell with other people guilty to have the same thoughts as you. That’s the story of Leopoldo Lopez. He was the former citizen in Caracas, a brilliant past in economics, political and social studies at Harvard University, lots of awards for his transparency and support to democracy.
In February 2014 he was joining a pacific students protest against the regime and he was arrested on charges of murder and terrorism. He spent one year and eight months waiting for his personal rights to be respected, asking for a fair process, knowing he was innocent and acknowledging there were no real proofs against him. His wife, Lilian Tintori, beside being the mother of two children of 7 and 3 years waiting for their father to come back home, engaged a tireless struggle to spread awareness on this terrible situation around the world, visiting several foreign governors and asking for justice. She was preaching: “no dejar la lucha contra el regimen”, not to abandon the fight against the regime. But in September 2015 the Judge Susana Bareiros, one of the most relevant political chavist figure in Venezuela, condemned Lopez to spend nearly 14 year on jail, guilty of “inciting violence through subliminal messages”. Lawyers defending Lopez said there was nothing to do, since you cannot defend yourself if the proof against you are counterfeit and conveyed by the government.
Why? What is the reason behind this obvious and clear violation of human rights, the violation of freedom, of “habeas corpus”, having a fair process? It’s because the prosecution of Hugo Chavez’s government, the one of Nicolàs Maduro, is experimenting a dizzying decline of consensus since its economy, not anymore empowered by the oil boom which supported the previous years, is on the brink of collapse, with an inflation of 110-140%, expropriation of industries and declining of productivity, no more resources, rationing worthy of Sovietic Union, and corrupted authorities.
The nine years of Chavez’s presidency have led to the highest levels of government corruption ever experienced in Venezuela. The main reasons have been: the record oil income obtained by the nation, money going directly into Chavez’s pockets, a mediocre management team working without transparency or accountability, the ideological predilections of Chavez, which have led him to try to play a messianic role in Latin America, and even world affairs. Finally the policies of hand-outs put in place by Chavez to keep the Venezuelan masses politically loyal played an important role.
Things are only worsening off with Maduro, political consensus is declining, and it is uncertain the manoeuvres that could be done in order to preserve power. In fact Lopez is not the only one suffering injustice, there are more than 70 other political prisoner serving the sentence with him. More than 100 students and citizens trying to oppose the government have been killed in these two years. However facts are not too much spoken on the international level, and Venezuela’s situations is not on the spotlight. Additionally national information sources are subject to heavy censure. International organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and many others are promoting the cause spreading information about the terrible situation on the internet, but no concrete measures have been undertaken until today to fight it.
Why? That’s the question I leave you with.