Reposted from Human Rights Watch

A thousand days ago, the Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López turned himself in to Veneuelan authorities only to face a classic example of injustice. He was subjected to a politically motivated prosecution, and sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison—all based on fabricated charges. As if that weren’t enough, López and his family are suffering countless humiliations and abuses. Maduro seems obsessed not only with isolating López from Venezuelans and the outside world but with breaking him.

On repeated occasions, masked raiders have violently entered López’s cell. They took away his Bible. They took away drawings by his two children.

At the Ramo Verde military prison, López is held in a separate building from other detainees. When he’s given permission to leave his cell, it is for an outdoor cement slab all his own. On the rare occasions that he is allowed to play basketball, he does so with guards, with whom he is not allowed to speak. During his first months of detention, López had permission to confide in a priest, but authorities cancelled that by 2015. He is occasionally allowed to go to religious services but never to talk to the other inmates there.

Guards control everything that López reads and sees. They’ve censored poetry and history books, any material written in English, and publications ranging from The Economist to a magazine on surfing. In a separate cell in his building, López is allowed to watch TV for a few hours a day, on a set that offers only the overwhelmingly pro-government open-air channels or movies selected by guards.

López’s lawyers are forbidden to bring legal documents when they visit, and for months now, López has been banned from keeping a pen and paper in his cell, which means he can’t jot down thoughts, feelings, or ideas for his legal defense.

For three weeks, López has not been allowed to phone his family—when he could, guards would often cut the line when they decided he had made “political” statements.

On repeated occasions, masked raiders have violently entered López’s cell. They took away his Bible. They took away drawings by his two children. When his defense team files complaints about such attacks—or, say, the time when somebody threw excrement in through the window—the courts reject them.

Without strong international pressure, López will remain Maduro’s hostage.

Often, the authorities impose bans on visits by López’s family or lawyers. The last time, after López questioned the Vatican-mediated dialogue between the government and the opposition, the authorities shut down visits for several days. When visits are allowed, prison guards routinely force López’s wife, mother, sister, and defense team to strip naked before and after seeing him. López’s mother was once forced to strip naked in front of his children.

The detention of López is a nightmare that has lasted for almost three years. It is essential that heads of state, the Vatican, and global and regional agencies press Maduro to release him, immediately and unconditionally. Words are no longer enough.

Without strong international pressure, López will remain Maduro’s hostage.

14 COMMENTS

  1. March on Ramo Verde, we need lots of people, enough to push down the fence. We also need an international presence in that march. People need to die. Better is some foreigners die too I’m sad to say, but that may be just what is needed to get this situation under a magnifying glass. Once LL is free, well, who knows what could happen.

    • I’m going to assume English is not your first language, and give you the benefit of the doubt.

      The way you wrote “People need to die. Better is some foreigners too” may sound different in your native language, but Google Translate is not perfect.

      The way it sounds in English, like you wrote it, could be construed by others much differently than what you may have intended.

      Cuide sus palabaras amigo….

      • Im not afraid of shit my friend. They can come and find me. It might be better for everyone here in Venezuela if that is the way this plays out. English is my first language. What I meant to say though was that better IF some foreigners do too. My bad for the typo. Ind Im the dead foreigner I was referring to.

  2. Meanwhile MUD calls him and all other political prisoners detainees

    I still cannot believe that he surrendered himself knowing that he needed the MUD to pull him out! How can you trust your freedom and life in such a lousy group.

  3. “The detention of López is a nightmare that has lasted for almost three years. It is essential that heads of state, the Vatican, and global and regional agencies press Maduro to release him, immediately and unconditionally. Words are no longer enough.”

    Agreed. The regime might consider that keeping him imprisoned is doing far more damage to them than releasing him would.

  4. Would that your last paragraph were true, but, for the vast majority of Venezuela’s downscale D-E socioeconomic classes LL is not a very high priority, if even a priority at all; and, we’ve seen how effective intl. pressure has been up to now….

  5. I’m pretty sure we have given peace a chance. As far as violent comments go, I’m not sure I agree that stating a historical fact can be construed as a violent comment. The road to freedom is (and always has been)paved with blood (of patriots).

  6. Regarding Leopoldo, don’t blame just Maduro.. It’s Cabello and dozens of other chavistoide crooks. Actually hundreds should go to jail for crimes against humanity, the political prisoners, not to mention for being mega-thieves that drained an entire nation, bringing hunger, famine, lack of medicines and the actual death of thousands of people. A Genocide of sorts.

    But then again what happens in 3rd world countries like Venezuela after such crimes? Not much, if anything. Did lots of people go to jail after abusing Mandela for so long? I suspect not many Venezuelan Criminals like Maduro, Cabello and hundreds more will literally get away with murder and go enjoy their stolen fortunes elsewhere. Them and hundreds of their crooked family members, of course.

    Danielita sure seems to be having a great time.. The Tarecks, and family, Luisa Ortega, Delcy, and families, you bet they are having fun. Plus the entire TSJ, most of the corrupt MUD, and the filthy rich, corrupt Military, and their families. All living the good life, and most will never spend a day in jail. Total impunity. Read the article here about crime in the Barrios, it’s everywhere..

    You see, to oppress and mess up a country you need many, many, many, many crooks and criminals, no laws, no punishment. Most the ministers, governors, mayors, the police, the Sebin, over 3 Million “public employees” employed by the chavista corrupt government.. many of them are also complicit and corrupt.

    It’s not just stupid Maduro. Not to mention Thousands and Thousands of Enchufados who are complicit with the regime, and gladly enjoy their freedom plus large paychecks for doing nothing. While the poor suffer, and valiant heroes like Leopoldo Lopez languish in prison under inhumane, barbaric conditions.

    Look for instance at the guards that abuse Leopoldo and his family. Gives you a picture of what happens almost everywhere in Venezuela, corruption, abuse, theft.. look at the prisons (discotheques), a veritable mess, at all levels, from el guardia to el general.

    Sure some steal more than others, but few are honest, working people. Or how would an ’empleado publico’ or guard even survive in Venezuela with ‘minimum salary’ or even 20 x a minimum salary?

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