The European Parliament just awarded the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2017 to the Venezuelan opposition. Naturally, in the wake of recent events,  you might be asking yourself  “Which opposition?”

Spoiler alert: not the MUD. The formal winners are:

“National Assembly (Julio Borges) and all Political Prisoners as listed by Foro Penal Venezolano represented by Leopoldo López, Antonio Ledezma, Daniel Ceballos, Yon Goicoechea, Lorent Saleh, Alfredo Ramos and Andrea González.”

This recognition might be a signal that the European Union isn’t throwing in the towel on Venezuela just yet. Last week, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, explicitly called the country’s situation “unacceptable” during his speech for the Princesa de Asturias Award.

The Sakharov Prize, named after Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, is awarded to those who defend Human Rights and/or resist oppressive regimes. On three different occasions it has gone to Cuban dissidents (Oswaldo Paya in 2002, the Damas de Blanco movement in 2005, and Guillermo Fariñas in 2010).  

Personally, I think the choice signals awareness of Nicolás Maduro’s deliberate evisceration of democratic institutions and crackdown of civil liberties, most notably the rise in number of political prisoners, including the mayor of my hometown, Alfredo Ramos.

Will this help mend the current split inside the MUD? I doubt it and since the award is not for all of the MUD, it might even intensify it.

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32 COMMENTS

  1. Oswaldo Paya’s award didn’t do him much good, nor will the Oppo’s, since, they, as Paya, have already died in their own crash, “under controversial circumstances”.

  2. It would be really brilliant if the opposition let HRA pick the award so he can present it to the ANC. It sounds sarcastic but is not, that’s what they did when they gave HRA the leadership of the opposition two years ago. Actually, it was more important 2/3 of the AN than a symbolic prize, isn’t? So why not again?

  3. Speaking of political prisoners, I have a question of CC staff.

    Remember the hand-written letter signed by about 20 of them before the elections urging their followers to vote in the 15 October fraud? I was suspicious of the letter then, and am even moreso today after seeing how that fraud played out.

    While I don’t doubt the letter was “real”, and was signed by those whose signatures appeared on the document, I asked a number of questions that I don’t think have ever been answered, such as:

    1) Are all of those prisoners held in the same prison, and if so, in the same cell?

    2) If not all housed together in the same prison or same cell, how did they all manage to get their hands on that letter for signing?

    3) If not all housed together, who facilitated getting that letter moved from one prisoner to another, or even one prison to another?

    4) I was under the impression that these prisoners have very limited or no access to lawyers and family. If so, who smuggled that letter out and got it to the press?

    Quico has told us his reporting is based on facts, and only facts. The man literally lives and breaths facts.

    Well Quico, can we be certain that that letter was “authentic”, as in a product of those prisoners wishes to encourage those who support them to get out there and vote? Or is it possible this was just another ruse of the regime to snooker the opposition into doing its biding?

    • I am personal friends with many of the prisoners held in Helicoide, SEBIN headquarters, who suffer in dungeons while their children grow up and their spouses are denied visiting rights, who wrote and signed that letter. I don’t know what’s more offensive, that you question how they risked their lives (and suffered severe reprisals) in order to get that letter out, or that you insist on making this and every other comments section on posts by various authors who put in hard work, about your personal fight with Quico.

      • Emiliana, I’ll split my response to your comments into two parts.

        Firstly, my “personal fight” with Quico, if that’s what you wish to call it, is really something of his own making, and I’m certainly not alone in my calling him out for the insults he tosses the way of those who disagree with his politics. I would suggest that if he fancies himself as a serious journalist, he grow a thicker skin and also not let his politics influence his analysis to the extent I believe happens on a regular basis on this site, both in his writing and the writing of his staff. We have enough of that with the MSM in the US who are nothing more than leftist mouthpieces and no longer even bother denying it. I might also suggest Quico not rely on his staff to defend his honor.

        Now, it’s good to know that you’re personal friends of many of the prisoners held in Helicoide, SEBIN headquarters, as that may help answer some of the questions I asked.

        But I have to ask, why is my questioning the authenticity of such a letter offensive to you or anyone else? Could not the same regime that denies them their freedom because of their political views also torture them into signing such a document because the regime felt it would benefit their propaganda effort?

        How many signed “confessions” have we seen from prisoners of communist regimes over the years? No one, including me, ever believes it’s the fault of the signee. We know they were tortured to make the claims they make. So, is mine not a valid question for anyone to ask? Or would you just rather that no one ask questions and take for gospel all that’s reported here?

        Now, you tell us those prisoners suffered severe reprisals for getting that document out. Perhaps this has been discussed elsewhere and I just missed it, but it’s the first I’ve heard such a claim made. Do you know that to be a fact…..that they suffered severe reprisals, or is that just an assumption on your part? I would suggest that if you know it to be a fact, that that story needs to be told as well…..far and wide.

        • Hey, they’re releasing the JFK documents. Why don’t you get on that one Sherlock? It will give you something productive to do while you sit there and wait for someone to invade.

          • So, in a nutshell, there’s an even bigger story than the letter itself, right? From within SEBIN headquarters, someone, obviously an insdier, facilitated a letter becoming public that was a major embarrassment to the regime. Shouldn’t that have been worthy of a story here?

            I read Isabella’s comments below and hope that she is soon reunited with her father, that all political prisoners are soon freed, and that this nightmare ends, though I still can’t imagine how using a corrupted electoral system will ever get the job done.

            As for the circumstances surrounding how the letter was put together and smuggled out, honestly, I still remain skeptical.

          • MRubio, there’s no “honestly” about anything you are saying. You haven’t lifted a finger to look into this before casting around your conspiracy theories.

          • cannuck, I’m actually getting embarrassed for you watching you thrash around trying to get my attention so I’ll respond.

            My reasons for being suspicious of the origins of the letter have nothing to do with conspiracy theories and everything to do with my observations and belief that this regime has repeatedly demonstrated it can run rings around the opposition.

            The 31 July vote for the ANC was a major embarrassment to the regime because the oppostion abstained in overwhelming numbers, the regime was forced to inflate the reported numbers of participants, Smartmatic signaled that the numbers were faked, and the rest of the world denounced it as the fraud it obviously was. The last thing the regime wanted was a repeat for the 15 Oct vote.

            Now, going into that 15 Oct vote, there were only 3 scenarios that could play out……..major abstention by the opposition once again, modest participation by the opposition, overwhelming participation by the opposition. I figured modest participation by the opposition was the best scenario for the regime, though I suspect they were equally as prepared for a heavy turnout should that occur.

            Anyway, the regime knew they’d get their voters to the polls as the threat of losing one’s job or food is a particularly compelling reason to vote. I submit that how those voters might have intended to vote wasn’t important to the regime because they planned to cook those numbers anyway.

            When I first saw that the election was being moved from December to October, I figured the fix was in. As I said numerous times, I just could not imagine this regime submitting themselves to an election without knowing beforehand that the final votes would favor the regime.

            Then, just a few days before the election, out of the SEBIN headquarters no less, comes a scathing letter signed by a dozen or more political prisoners urging their followers to participate in the election basically “to show the world that the people demand democracy in Venezuela and that the dictatorship needs a thrashing at the polls”.

            Now, maybe those politically-savvy prisoners really believe that there would be free and fair elections held on 15 Oct, but when much of the rest of Venezuela watched in horror and amazement as HRA announced the day after the 31 July fraud that they’d go to elections, my doubts were further raised about the circumstances of its release.

            Finally, I readily admit I know little about the conditions under which those who are held against their will by SEBIN live, though I was under the impression based on what I’ve read here and elsewhere that their freedoms within the prison were greatly restricted and that their contact with the outside world was also very tightly controlled.

            So, the letter is released on 9 October and on 11 October we have family members reporting that the prisoners have been punished and are in isolation and no longer allowed to see their families or their lawyers.

            What would be a likely response by the public? Get out and vote, of course.

            Dunno cannuck. Personally I think the story stinks. Feel free to explain how I’m all wrong here, or continue to insult me if you wish. It’s what you do best.

          • You’ve been presented here with some further evidence, and your response is further complete speculation, and now you are actually embracing the bullshit you are spinning (“I think the story stinks”).

            That’s the thing about your kind of mischief- that is, Know-Nothing mischief. It starts with this “I don’t know but its possible…” bullshit, and then in response to some more evidence, you respond with more “I don’t know but its possible…” bullshit. Nothing factual. Zero. There is limitless bullshit of that nature.

            Your observations are based entirely on a “feeling”. That’s the problem. You’re here to defend your “feeling”. Your “feeling” makes it justifiable in your mind to slander people who have made huge sacrifices.

            Are you a regular RT watcher? You should be if you are not, because your feelings will get plenty of validation through Russian propaganda.

          • Uh, who did I slander?

            BTW, speaking of Russians and feelings, I bet you’re all on board the Trump colluded with the Russians story. Am I right Mr. Pot, or in this case, Mr. Morocoy?

      • Emiliana, With all due respect, you taking offense is personally insightful, and now with the added comment that you personally know that a few signatories did sign, gives me and maybe others some (not full) confidence that the document is real.

        BUT PLEASE, that document begged doubt to anyone with reason (OK, Less a few million chavistas), for exactly the reasons MRubio stated, plus a half dozen more.

        NOT THAT lives were at risk, but the sheer incompetence that SEBIN, could allow this to happen. Which then brings the question of….. maybe they wanted it too?

        Also, Quico is a full fledged adult, who has built himself a business and career, in opinion and analysis. He throws arrows, he takes them.

        An open comment section is the reason CC has a vibrant community of followers.

        and when comments and passion become heated, you of all people should know that it is good for your site, and vz as a whole.

        • We take pride in this being an open forum for discussion, even when we don’t agree with the comments or when conversations take a turn for the worse. We never delete comments, unless they are spam. My point is that Quico did not write this post, Gustavo Hernandez did, and taking up space in this section to direct an unrelated jab at Quico detracts from Mr. Hernández’s efforts in writing this. Also, I am not Quico’s “staff.”

      • My name is Isabella Picón, I am the daughter of Roberto Picón, an engineer and political prisoner. He has been imprisoned at SEBIN headquarters in El Helicoide for 4 months, since June 22, 2017. The letter is authentic. I obviously can’t say how they managed to get it out or how they managed to get together at SEBIN to write it, but it’s authentic. I don’t know it and if I did, saying it publicly would be stupid. I haven’t seen my dad since Sunday, Oct. 8th because he was one of the people that signed the letter. These prisoners are now isolated from each other and from their families and their lawyers just because they told people to get out and vote.
        My father and the other political prisoners’ appeal to Venezuelans was genuine. Everyone who knows him and his work knows that he has always been convinced that a big part of the solution to this mess is for Venezuelan society to get truly organized, vote and be able to defend our votes and uphold the integrity of every election regardless of what the Consejo Nacional Electoral does. And that’s what they called for in that letter. That other political prisoners that belong to different political parties (my father doesn’t) also signed it is a testament to the fact that there is solidarity and friendship in El Helicoide beyond what we can imagine and that we can build a consensus around many obvious things like that rescuing the integrity of voting as a way to solve are differences is key to solving the crisis we are in. They all believe that, regardless of their political ideology or membership and that’s beautiful and not convenient for the regime. They made it public and the regime punished them for it.

        By the way, you simply have to google the name of Daniel Ceballos or Roberto Picón or Yon Goicoechea and get into their twitter accounts to know the kind of treatment they have received as prisoners and now in this new punishment.

        http://www.talcualdigital.com/Nota/148593/castigan-a-los-presos-politicos-por-llamar-a-votar
        https://twitter.com/Daniel_Ceballos
        https://www.vpitv.com/venezuela/presos-politicos-de-el-helicoide-no-han-podido-ser-visitados-desde-que-invitaron-a-votar/
        http://www.2001.com.ve/en-la-agenda/172159/castigaron-a-presos-politicos-por-llamar-a-votar.html
        http://www.unidadvenezuela.org/noticias/7865=familiares-de-presos-politicos-en-el-helicoide-denuncian-aislamiento-y-prohibicion-de-visitas-familiares
        http://efectococuyo.com/politica/familiares-de-presos-politicos-denuncian-castigos-por-llamar-a-votar-este-15oct

    • Hey Lieutenant Columbo, if it’s really eating at you, why don’t you contact the families and just ask? But that would break with your credo of actually doing something. I get it.

      What really pains you, I suspect, is that the world has not embraced the return of democracy to Venezuela because the opposition participated. That great ‘threat’ did not come to pass. And you are bereft.

  4. No está mal es importante. Pero yo preferiría derrocar a Maduro a cualquier premio. Si me pones a escoger entre el nobel de la paz y derrotar la dictadura, pues escojo lo último. Los premios de ese tipo, por muy lindos que sean, son para los perdedores.

  5. “awareness” is a plus and the prize was clearly deserved but could our friends at the EU Parliament do more for Venezuela than host a gala where they consume expensive champagne and caviar and declare their virtue by awarding a prize. Can’t wait for the photos.
    Time to get real…..

    • I have been to the EU parliament a couple of times and I can tell you what they serve in such occassions is much humbler and so should we (be).

      It depends on each one of those who call themselves Venezuelans to do the real job. This is just an important recognition and moral support.

      One of the things we have to do is to make Putin’s regime reconsider their nasty stand right now

      https://twitter.com/mae_rusia/status/923589272665575425

  6. Awareness is bound to shift from politcal to financial in 2017, when over 9 billion in bond payments come due. Through hook and crook it looks like Maduro and company will muddle through this pending batch of bond payments – including the over billion owed next Friday, I believe. But the 9 billion owed in 2017 exceeds ALL of Venezuela’s reserves, and that is a problem that has no political solution save for what the Chavista’s cannot do: Change.

  7. This is good news and well deserved award, it is symbolic i known but it helps to keep the moral high.
    We have the people 90%, the energy and the support of the international community.
    All we have to do know is reorganize us in a more consolidated opposition to finally end this nightmare.
    The MUD had to implode because their political party dynamics made it difficult to oust a dictatorship.
    We need to pick one leader and to be as well structured as a formal nation state government or corporation.
    The Marxist-Communist dictatorship is utterly incompetent in many things but they have Raul Castro as indisputable leader and that is what makes them very effective when it comes to holding power and manipulating the vulnerable and the international scene.

  8. Awareness is good, but action is needed.

    Spain and Europe have been doing business in Cuba for the whole duration of the US embargo. Canadians went there and praised the “amercian-free” beaches!

    The Cuban mirage is still strong in european minds and hearts (and pockets!)

    I fear that until pockets are hurting, nothing really will change from the outside. The fall will necessarily come when the looting no longer funds debt payments and the creditors will come in to collect.

    sad, sad script.

    • There were never any American-free beaches in Cuba. Americans visited Cuba via third countries, and the Cuban authorities obliged by stamping a piece of paper rather than their passports.

  9. A lot of people call to vote, and a lot of people did (5M people voted for the opposition). Now, with all due respect to CC, why haven’t you open a post considering the possibility that in the regional elections the fraud was not only in Bolívar because the actas but everywhere because the votes not associated with voters that according to some reports could be around 2M (JBorges said 1.6M).

    First, in this forum comments from the audience are really nice and articulated (most forums people write like they were young kids and some of them probably don’t have bachillerato, their writing is enough to note that).

    The second reason, the importance to understand that there is still an option to have a presidential election that might be competitive (this option was really diminished after 15-Oct however it remains as the only option in the horizon, there are probably no more options). As such, it’s important to think in a mechanism to stop psuv-cne injecting millions of votes, and that will not happen if the problem, that the psuv-cne did injected 2M votes in the last election probably happened (all the evidence point in this way).

    The third reason: people are blaming the “starving people” who voted for psuv when that could’ve not happened (probably psuv had 2-3 M voters but never 6M voters). A country cannot solve a problem if the problem has not been identified yet.

    The fourth reason: CC has post tens of articles about the elections and none of them are addressing the following questions: how psuv had 6M voters or 54% of the votes with at least 75% of the country against them? How the registered voters who voted past 61% in a regional election, where part of the opposition was not motivated to vote, reubicaciones affected 1M voters and most of them did not vote, where a part of those registered voters have left the country (remember that 700K were abroad in 16J).

    This is the kind of debates and information people need because a lot of them now have been brainwashed (nationally and internationally) about the possibility that even with the disaster that exploits in the face of everybody and everyday, psuv-maduro could have more than half of the country supporting him, and if so (which IS NOT) then the international community would stop helping because people are “happy” with maduro and the opposition to maduro (more than 75%) will feel that they are minority again. And this is a lie and is unacceptable, at least for me, and in this matter the “independent” media has mingled its position with “medios públicos” and this is terrible. Really SAD.

    P.S. In any other country (a functional one), the possibility that the winning party could’ve had more than half of its votes via fraud, would’ve been the news for weeks, but in a no-functional country this is not news, not even if the president of the AN said so).

  10. I concur with JJ, please explain the election results to us. ToroVolt says 90 per cent of the people are with us. CC via Quico says 54 per cent legitimately voted for the Chavistas. I have repeatedly questioned the disparity between the polling and the actual results but no one really wants to deal with the 800 lb guerilla in the room. You are the experts.

    • Now wait just a minute Mr. Crispin. Who the hell are you to question the narrative here? Disparity between the polling and the actual results? An 800 lb gorilla in the room?

      That’s the thing about your kind of mischief- that is, Know-Nothing mischief. It starts with this “I don’t know but its possible…” bullshit, and then in response to some more evidence, you respond with more “I don’t know but its possible…” bullshit. Nothing factual. Zero. There is limitless bullshit of that nature.

      Your observations are based entirely on a “feeling”. That’s the problem. You’re here to defend your “feeling”. Your “feeling” makes it justifiable in your mind to slander people who have made huge sacrifices.

      Here are the undisputable facts: We have the actas!!!!

      It’s time to move on! We have more elections coming up and we need to prepare for them. Somehow we need to convince a majority of Venezuelans that having no food, medicine, personal security, jobs, dependable water and electricity, nor futures for their children, is not in their best interest. Accomplish that overwhelmingly difficult task and perhaps we can surpass that 50% mark and oust these guys from office once and for all.

      50% plus one vote. That’s all it’ll take and the future is ours!!!!

  11. I will keep going on the matter that the biggest fraud that happened in the regionales was the injection of at least half of the votes psuv got. Indeed, some people were somehow forced to vote psuv (puntos rojos, claps, listas) but most of the votes psuv got were not forcing people to vote but voting for them instead.

    First new evidence: Maduro said that if the had 30 minutes more he would’ve won Zulia. So it means he had the “capacity” someway to include 60K more votes whenever he wanted and wherever he wanted and I agree, because he fully showed us his “skills” everywhere. (This was quoted by journalist @ElyangelicaNews via twitter).

    Second new evidence via @CarlosOcaríz: from 8:30pm to 9:00pm (half an hour) psuv-cne injected 60k votes for psuv (according to the “sistema de totalización”). In some poll stations fanb-cne (plan república) forced the witnesses to leave.

    Again, more and more evidence is pointing out to a massive ballot stuffing, and as I’ve commented before the ballot stuffing could reach 3M votes nationwide.

    At least 15 gobernaciones (including all the largest ones) would’ve been won by the opposition thanks for the people that voted for them, but the SAD part is that the “leadership” who let the fraud happened are blaming the “other” people (abstencionistas) that didn’t vote when the people that did vote are waiting for an explanation of what REALLY happened.

    On the other hand, more good news for the government: nobody is talking about the massive ballot stuffing. The perfect crime.

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