Leopoldo, one of FP's "upenders" of 2014

leopoldoLeopoldo Lopez, jailed by chavismo for helping light the spark that led to the street protests that erupted nationwide in February, was highlighted by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the 100 Global Thinkers of 2014, for “upending the tactics of Venezuela’s loyal opposition”.

To our mind, this is the first time a foreign publication calls the opposition out for being “loyal” to the government. This should give everyone inside the MUD some pause.

The 100 leading Global Thinkers is a special issue of Foreign Policy magazine that unveils what they claim to be the top hundred most influential actors embodied in an array of 10 different categories, from Agitators, Decision-makers, Challengers (where Leopoldo lies), Naturals, Innovators, Advocates, Chroniclers (unfortunately not us, jeje), Healers, Artists, and Moguls.

There’s no need to repeat Leopoldo’s role in Venezuela’s opposition movement against Chavismo these past 15 years. Within the opposition he is deemed as the Venezuelan Mandela by some, megaloathed by others. Chavismo simply despises him.

Regardless of your views on Leopoldo, what is telling is his large impact both inside Venezuela and abroad. Just two months ago, President Barack Obama called for his release in a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative in NYC, which was followed by calls from a UN High Commissioner  to release him, along with and Mayors Daniel Ceballos of San Cristobal and Enzo Scarano of San Diego.

After spending nine months behind bars, what should really dismay the opposition in Venezuela is that his imprisonment, unacceptable in any democratic system, continues with no sign of letting up.

I’ve never voted for Leopoldo, nor am I a member of his party. It is pointless and irresponsible to continue bickering about the endless silliness between “la salida vs Capriles,” or the divide between those fathomed as mere “radicals” and other deemed “progressive.” All of us who oppose the dreadful tragedy that has fallen upon our nation should step forward in defining what we really represent in order to inspire the people around us that a new country could rise in our lifetime – talk about ourselves instead of the others.

Mr Lopez, like it or not, has been confined to a military prison without due process, trial pending or delayed. This is how Big Brother treats those who dare challenge or question its authority. Allegedly, the opposition movement represents a democratic alternative against the Bolivarian Revolution, but it feels to some extent that the democratic struggle from those who are outside Ramo Verde prison lacks the comprehension of some of the basic principles that rule any democratic society. There’s no deficit or surplus of democracy – either you live in one or you don’t.

The “disruption” that FP claims is not between a people and its government, but between a government and its official opposition. Mr Lopez, along with the other political prisoners, are being recognized abroad for disrupting the cozy relationship between the regime and the apparent acceptance of the status quo.

The rest of us who are outside those cells should continue disrupting the discussion forward if we truly wish to start imagining change.

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