Leopoldo Lopez, The Freest Prisoner In The World

Leopoldo Lopez waves from a window of the Ramo Verde military prison in Caracas. (EFE)

Leopoldo Lopez waves from a window of the Ramo Verde military prison in Caracas. (EFE)

Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 11 September 2015 — I met him and it was impossible not to notice him. He stood out among everyone: young, with an impressive energy and an intelligence that suggested he would go far. Yesterday he was sentenced to 13 years and nine months in prison by a court as biased as it was malicious. On hearing the sentence I started to calculate how old his two children would be when he left prison, but I immediately stopped short. Leopold Lopez will not serve those years behind bars, I told myself, nor will he disappoint the first impression I had of him.

The authorities don’t learn. They don’t take into account that the bars magnify a political leader and the pain suffered in the cells hangs on his chest like a medal won on the bloodiest battlefield. Leopold will leave there strengthened, while on the other side, a fearful Nicolas Maduro, will not know what to do with the freest prisoner in the world. Every day that he spends behind bars, this Venezuelan will hang like a shameful weight from the dying remnants of the Chavez regime.

I also remember the moment I met Lilian Tintori. A woman who had to leap over her own fears to become the citizen who last night read a message from her husband after the unjust sentence. There was a firmness in her that had not yet emerged in the first exchange of phrases we shared in Madrid. However, the absurdity that she has experienced has emphasized her strength, brought forward her resolve.

The authoritarians know not what they do.

Leopoldo will return. Young, energetic and rewarded for his pain. Lilian is already here, with this determination that makes us ask ourselves, would we be willing to do the same for our family and for our country?

46 thoughts on “Leopoldo Lopez, The Freest Prisoner In The World

  1. Will the Pope visiting change anything? No, because he’s the head of the most conservative organization on Earth.
    Economic realities are driving (slow) change in Cuba, getting away from dependence on Vzla – which is imploding – and getting close to the US instead.
    There’s so much talk of democracy and human rights, and that needs to be said, but it’s not going to happen for decades and generations in the countries most adversely affected by geopolitical realities.
    Also it appears that the US is getting a better communication with and more influence over the leftist govts of LatAm, and thereby over the whole region…

  2. Unlike America and Soviet Russia with their political dependencies, the Catholic Church has neither standing armies nor atom bombs. It needs neither because it is the possessor of a weapon which during twenty centuries has served it not only to survive, but to win and conquer. Its strength lies in a passionate belief in its mission to convert and ultimately to rule all the nations of the world.
    This spiritual strength is buttressed by an organization that is unsurpassed and that has made the Catholic Church a power of the first magnitude.
    Its diplomats are ushered into almost every Foreign Office in the world; its press and its charitable, social, and political institutions stand side by side with the most up-to-date newspapers, sports and cultural dubs and social welfare centres in America and Europe; its .Catholic Parties are competing with powerful political movements in the major countries of the European continent; its ruler, the Pope, although a religious leader, has over fifty accredited ambassadors at his residence, and his words, obeyed by an army of 400 million, are considered by the leaders of all parties and governments and may have more far-reaching consequences than the utterances of heads of States, the resolutions passed at International Congresses, or the motions propounded by World Councils set up to ensure global peace.
    Being the relentless institution that it is, the Catholic Church will not rest. As we have pointed out, to attain its goals it win continue the patient process of machination and counter-machination. It will employ artfulness, daring, diplomacy, religion, intrigue -and all the armory of great nations bent on expanding their dominion abroad.
    It is fully to be expected that instead of helping to avert a third world catastrophe, the Catholic Church, by continuing to align itself with unenlightened forces, will greatly contribute to the widening of the gap already separating two great portions of the world. But while so doing, the Catholic Church should keep in mind that it is endangering not only the lives of countless millions, but also its own existence. A third world war, unlike the wars of the recent past, would spell irremediable destruction not only of entire peoples, but also of ancient institutions, among which the Catholic Church would certainly be one of the main sufferers.
    Millions of thinking people are today striving to build a world in which war is outlawed. New and living forces are on the march. Because the Catholic Church has seen small countries grow into mighty empires and then tumble, because it has beheld countless rulers rise and fall, ideologies come and go, let it not entertain vain illusions that it will also see the passing of the progressive forces which are now sweeping the globe.
    The atomic bombs which in a few seconds wiped Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the face of the earth and brought Japan to her knees should be a warning to all those forces dealing with the future of mankind, that the methods of uncompromising principles of past ages are for ever out-of-date. Unless new horizons are opened, new methods devised, and a new spirit encouraged, economic systems, social doctrines, and Political regimes, as well as religious institutions, will inevitably bring upon themselves and all mankind total and final annihilation. The Catholic Church would be no exception, and, like all other world-wide institutions, it should take heed of the warning and, by keeping step with the spirit of the twentieth century, try to follow a new road.

  3. Democracy, asserted Pius XI, was the main cause of all the chaos, which had come about because of the very nature of democratic Governments, where the will of the people is sovereign and where there is too much freedom; and the more democratic a country, the more chaotic her national life.
    This condemnation of democracy was very significant, for it came at a time when the Fascist doctrines were making great strides in Italy and the rest of Europe. We shall see later how this indictment of democracy was not to be confined to the purely theoretical field, but was to enter into the sphere of politics—and thus contribute to the tragic consequences of which we are all aware.
    In his encyclical, Pius XI also gave several other causes which he alleged were responsible for the world unrest:
    (1) God had been removed from the conduct of public affairs. (2) Marriage had become purely a civil contract. (3) God had been banished from schools.
    After these accusations, the Pope finally suggested the remedies with which the society of the twentieth century could be cured. Every individual, he said, should respect the divine arrangement of human obedience and should respect the divine arrangement of human society and, above all, of the Catholic Church, a teacher “incapable of error.” Only the Catholic Church, he went on, could bring peace and order, for the Church alone teaches with a divine commission, and by divine command, that individuals and States must obey God’s laws, and the Catholic Church is “the only one and the only divinely constituted guardian and interpreter of these revealed truths.”
    That being so, continued Pius XI, society could find a solution to its troubles only by following the teaching of the Catholic Church. As for nations trying to settle their differences, it was useless for them to create an International Institution (League of Nations) regardless of the Church. If they wished such an organization to succeed, then they must build it on the model of that International Institution which worked so well during the Middle Ages—namely, the Catholic Church. For the Catholic Church alone is able to safeguard the sacredness of International Law, for while it belongs to all nations, yet it is above all nations.
    Individuals must look to the Catholic Church for guidance, not only in spiritual, but also in social, matters; and they should never forget that they are forbidden to support certain social doctrines of which the Church does not approve (i.e. Liberalism, Modernism, Socialism, etc.). Unfortunately, remarked the Pope, there are too many, even amongst
    Catholics, who are inclined to look upon social matters with too liberal a mind. “In their words, writings, and in the whole tenor of their lives, they behave as though the teaching and commands set out by Popes…..were becoming completely obsolete…..In this there can be recognized a certain kind of modernism in morals in matters touching authority and the social order, which, along with modernism, we specifically condemn.”

    Pope Leo XIII made known his ideas regarding the Catholic Church and society in his first encyclical published April 2, 1878 (Inscrutabili). In this encyclical he drew a careful picture of world conditions in his time and the practical consequences brought about by the principles of the Secular State. Great evils had affected not only society, but also the State and the individual, said Leo XIII. The new principles (Secularism and Liberalism) had caused the subversion of those fundamental truths which were the foundation of society. They had implanted a general obstinacy in the heart of the individual, who had thus become very impatient of all authority. Disagreements of all kinds over political and social problems, which were bound to create revolutions, were increasing daily.
    The new theories, which were especially directed against Christianity and the Catholic Church, had in the practical field been the cause of acts directed against the authority of the Catholic Church. Among these actions which were the consequences of the new doctrines were the passing in more than one country of laws which shook the very foundation of the Catholic Church; the freedom given to individuals to propagate principles which were “mischievous” restrictions on the Church’s right to educate youth; the seizure of the temporal power of the Popes; and the systematic rejection of the authority of the Pope and of the Catholic Church, “the source of progress.”
    “Who,” said Leo XIII, “will deny the service of the Church in bringing truth to the peoples sunk in ignorance and superstition?…If we compare the ages when the Church was universally revered as a mother with our age, is it not beyond all question that our age is rushing wildly along the straight road to destruction?” The Papacy, declared Leo, was the protector and the guardian of civilization. “It is in very truth the glory of the Supreme Pontiffs that they steadfastly set themselves as a wall and bulwark to save human society from falling back into its former superstition and barbarism.” If the Papacy’s “healing authority” had not been put aside, the world would have been spared innumerable revolutions and wars, and the civil power “would not have lost that venerable and sacred glory, the lustrous gift of religion, which alone renders the state of subjection noble and worthy of Man.”

  5. I personally think the Pope should stay out of Lopez sentencing by asking for clemency or any other type of forgiveness for violating Venezuelan Law.
    A LITTLE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH AND POLITICS ( BEFORE WORLD WAR I)Benedict XV draws practical conclusions and hints to the rulers of nations that if they want discipline, obedience, and order, they must support the teaching of the Catholic Church. It is foolish, he states, for a country to rule without the teaching of the Church, or to educate its youth in other doctrines that are not of the Church. “Sad experience proves that human authority fails when religion is set aside.” So the ruler of the State should not despise God’s authority and His Church; otherwise the peoples will despise their authority. Human society, the Pope continues, is kept together by two factors—mutual love and dutiful acknowledgment of authority over all. These sources have been weakened, with the result that, within each nation, the population, is “divided, as it were, into two hostile armies, bitterly and ceaselessly at strife, the owners on the one hand, and the proletariat and the workers on the other.”
    The proletariat should not be filled with hatred, and should not envy the wealthy, says the Pope, for such a proletariat would become an easy prey for agitators. For “it does not follow that, because men are equal by their nature, they must all occupy an equal place in the community.” The poor should not look upon the rich and rise against them, as if the rich were thieves; for when the poor do this, they are unjust and uncharitable, besides acting unreasonably. The consequences of class hatred are disastrous, and strikes are to be deplored, for they disorganize national life. The errors of Socialism have been exposed by Leo XIII, and bishops should see that the Catholics never forget Leo’s condemnation of it. They should preach brotherly love, which will never abolish “the difference of conditions and therefore of classes, but will bring it to pass that those who occupy higher positions will in some way bring themselves down to those in lower position, and treat them not only justly…but kindly and in a friendly and patient spirit. The poor, on their side, will rejoice in their prosperity (the prosperity of the rich) and rely confidently on their help.”
    Men have lost the belief in a future life, and they therefore consider this earthly life as the whole reason for their existence. A wicked Press, godless schools, and other influences have caused this “most pernicious error.” Those who uphold these doctrines desire wealth; but as wealth is not equally divided, and as the State sets limits to the taking of the wealth of the rich, the poor hate the State. “Thus the struggle of one class of citizen
    against another bursts forth, the one trying by every means to obtain and to take what they want to have, the other endeavoring to hold and to increase what they already possess.”
    Why did the Catholic Church at this stage insist so much on authority and on the issue of the struggle between classes? Because the rumbling of social upheaval closely to follow the First World War was already being heard by the Vatican, which, fearing the worst, was already taking the first precautionary steps.

  6. Mario,
    I don’t think the Pope overtly engages in secular politics of nations. He does adhere to positions of the Church regarding issues of homosexuality, punishments, greed, etc. that blur the fine line between right and wrong as seen by the secular organizations of man as opposed to the spiritual or hope of Man which the Church was created for and like any large organization, there are a few rotten apples in them. This is unavoidable because of the nature of Man. The “dresses” are antiquated, the message of the Church has not changed much, they are trying to keep pace with Man break neck pace of greater understanding of our place in the Universe. There are billions of people around the World that rely on the church to support their ability to deal with everyday problems and challenges. The Church still is a necessity for many people in the World and used by States to facilitate policy as always since the idea of the Catholic Church was conceived.

  7. Omar,
    sorry but Donald Trump is right when he says that “this Pope likes to meddle in politics”.

    Not just the Pope, anyone talking about poverty and wars is “meddling in politics” because he talks about class struggle and imperialism, whether he admits it or not.

    The Pope is often right on social issues, but he leads a corrupt, anachronic gang of clowns (men wearing dresses) with pedophile history. Cubans have more authentic and less spoiled religions then Catholicism.

  8. Folks,
    Acts of clemency by governments is good governance practices when dealing with the Catholic Church. This has been a tradition for a very long time. People try to politicize the office of the Pope for gains with their own political agendas. Unfortunately, the ignorance of the public regarding matters of State (including the Vatican) opens the door for acts of violence against the Pope. A plot against the Pope was uncovered in the United States. Donald Trump does not help any, also, by making statements like “this Pope likes to meddle in politics” among other statements made by him that increases the risk of violence against the Pope. Again, I have always believe that the greatest threat to Peace in the World are the Right Wing organizations and People that are loyal to their ideology. The Pope trying to do what is morally right according to the Catholic Church ideals and principles has become a target of the Right Wing camp.

  9. OPEN DEMOCRACY (photos) : The art of resistance in Cuba – by Pamela Kalkman

    Danilo Maldonado, the Cuban graffiti artist commonly known as “El Sexto”, is fighting prison with paper. Since December 2014, repression of artists in Cuba has increased significantly.

    It has been over eight months since Maldonado was first thrown into Valle Grande prison in Havana. His crime: planning to stage an art performance based on Orwell’s famous novella, Animal Farm. Cubans have the tradition of slaughtering and eating a pig on Christmas Eve, which has become too luxurious of a tradition to practice amidst the deteriorating economy. As a means of protest, Maldonado planned to “feed the Cuban people” on this past Christmas Eve by releasing two pigs in Havana’s Central Park. However, these were not regular pigs: spray-painted in military green, they went by the names Fidel and Raul.

    Roughly three weeks before his holiday protest, Maldonado told me that word had probably gotten out about his plan. Security agents had been blocking his house, trying to prevent him from leaving. On the actual day of performance, he was arrested on his way to the park with his pigs. Later, he was accused of “insulting the maximum leadership of the revolution,” an offense punishable by one to three years of imprisonment in Cuba.

    When two of his close friends, punk singer Gorki and artist Lia Villares, tried to visit Maldonado, they were denied entrance. The guards had labeled them as “CR” or Counter-Revolutionary, the go-to label for everyone who is critical of the Cuban regime. This branding may be related to a video clip they released, which demands the release of Maldonado; or, it may have to do with Lia Villares’ visit to the Oslo Freedom Forum in May, where she received the Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent of the Human Rights Foundation on behalf of Danilo.

    Either way, the guards probably weren’t happy either with the petition the friends started on change.org, or with the recording—which they slipped out of the prison—of the conversation between Tania Bruguera, a famous Cuban artist and a U.S. resident, and Maldonado, in which he denounces his unjust imprisonment. To be honest, it is hard to know just how someone comes to be labelled as a “CR” in Cuba.




    !USA TODAY: Pope Francis’ historic trip to Cuba is sure to make political waves – by Rick Jervis
    But the millions watching around the globe may wonder which version of the pontiff will show up: The Great Reformer who candidly challenges the country’s communist leaders and champions the oppressed? Or a Vatican leader with socialist leanings who acquiesces to the political status quo and faults the USA for continuing to strangle the island economically?

    How far Francis goes in denouncing Cuba’s human rights violations and authoritative policies remains in doubt, Azel said. Earlier this month, Cuban authorities announced they would release 3,522 prisoners in anticipation of the pope’s visit, though none were believed to be political prisoners. On Sunday, Cuban police detained about 50 people during a march led by a predominately Roman Catholic dissident group, according to Reuters. Pope Francis has no scheduled meetings with dissidents.

    “He could ask for the release of political prisoners, ask for freedom of speech,” Azel said. “He could play the role, but I’m afraid he won’t.”



  11. BRADENTON HERALD: Cuba’s prisoner release gesture just a sham for pope

    It’s well known that Cuba empties and fills its jails according to what’s politically expedient — and makes it look like a benevolent government to the outside world, especially just before the international spotlight shines on the island.

    Those set to be pardoned are men and women, young and old or infirm who are first-time offenders who committed nonviolent crimes. But none of the regime’s thousands of political prisoners are among them.

    We hope the pope has something to say about that. After all, recent figures show arrests and detentions on the island continue unabated.

    It’s not the first time Cuba has made a show of releasing prisoners — a favorite bargaining tool of the Castro brothers.

    In 1978, Fidel Castro released almost 3,800 political prisoners in a deal with President Jimmy Carter’s administration. Before that, of course, there was a deal brokered for the release of the Cubans captured during the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. Cuba got $10 million in medical supplies.

    And twice before, in advance of papal visits, the Cuban government has released prisoners, all for show before filling the jails again after the pope’s plane went wheels up.

    In 1998, Fidel Castro released 300 prisoners ahead of Pope John Paul II’s visit. And in 2011, Raul Castro released nearly 3,100 ahead of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit.

    A month after the U.S. announced it would reestablish diplomatic ties with the island, Cuba, as a show of good will, released 53 dissidents. Many of the prisoners, it turned out, had nearly served their sentences or been released months earlier. In other words, it was an empty gesture.



  12. Neutral Observer: We can actually build public toilets that are recyclable. Poop, wash, poop for organic fertilizer, water filtered, reservoir (local, like for one building), re-use again (less water need to be added to system, because there is evaporation and waste-not 100% close loop system.)

  13. Neutral Observer: The truth is that there is no need for toilet paper…. not if you use the technique use by Indians in India….In India you have to look hard to find toilet paper and if you do it is expensive. They wash themselves after each time they use the toilet (longer). For this purpose, public toilets (train stations, hotels, restaurants) in India sometimes have a (fairly high-power) shower head installed next to them. If you use shower gel for your washing process, the result is much like what you have when you get out of the shower. (In India, of course, this is why they only eat and shake hands with the right hand… In case they didn’t have any shower gel.)…you see Neutral Observer….toilet paper is a luxury for most of the people of the World… Western Rich Societies capitalized on the invention of toilet paper for profit resulting in more demand for trees when there are alternatives that are more environmental friendly…..

  14. I don’t think a lack of toilet paper is a side effect of socialism. I think it’s merely a symptom of authoritarian rule gone too long. When the Autocrats greedily assume all profits and resources neglecting basic needs, the system can’t self sustain. They say that Socialism gone to it’s ridiculous corrupt end devolves into Naziism. But when Capitalism reaches that level of corruption, (see the big neighbor to the north) it devolves into Chaos; lawlessness, rage, social madness, predators and bullying, etc. Think Ortega y Gasset 1930, “La rebelion de las masas”.
    It’s a global problem, it seems. We are all called on these days to wake up and restructure the paradigm or our collective doom is cooked.

  15. Comrade Omar,

    Funny how only Socialist countries lack toilet paper.

    Cuba and Venezuela have more trees and more water than up here, but they have a lot less toilet paper.

    The capitalist CIA must be behind this toilet paper conspiracy.

    Cuba and Venezuela are great, except when the CIA steals their toilet paper.

    Viva Socialismo!

  16. Neutral Observer….you are right I forgot to mention Climate Change…it causes stronger tornados, more desertification (less trees for toilet paper). These things were caused by Greed, Free Market and the Profit system…not the Central Intelligence Service…If there was such an organization, they would have prevented the rise in temperature by doing a better job of controlling consumption….there is no intelligence involved in what we have done from the Industrial Revolution until the Present. It has all being done for selfishness and greedy reasons….Comrade Observer….

  17. Omar,

    You forgot the weather.

    Everyone knows that tornadoes are CIA Wall Street Banker USA Capitalist Imperialist Right Wing plots to destabilize the world.

    Don’t forget earthquakes either.

    Also, don’t forget the CIA stole all the toilet paper in Cuba.

    That’s the real reason Cuba doesn’t have toilet paper.

    I’m with you Comrade. Thanks for your informative posts.

  18. 14 years in jail for Lopez…not bad for a man who instigated fomentation by Venezuelans under the payroll of the United States to overthrow the democratic elected government of Maduro. Not to mention that the acts of fomentation resulted in 43 deaths on the streets of Venezuela which makes Lopez the source of the violence against these unfortunate misguided Venezuelan citizens who swallowed the promises of Lopez as attainable realities. Lopez, the indoctrinated Venezuelan in American Universities for the Rich, is a traitor to the Venezuelan People because he did not accept the results of the democratically held elections in Venezuela…and here lies the problem with the Right: my way or the highway. All these Democratic for Latin America organizations and institutions backed by the United States (all of them are supported in one way or the other by the U.S. State Department or their loyalist in the private sector) are after the same thing in Latin America: Domination of the political and economic landscape of Latin American countries. They do not believe that it is possible to have leftist political organizations as part of a Democratic process in any nation. They are after a Right Wing dictatorship camouflage by the ideology of Democracy, Freedom, Liberty and Human Rights. Leftist controlled governments in Latin America and the Caribbean cannot allow these organizations to infiltrate their societies to the point of undermining Socialism. Socialist government cannot allow themselves to show weakness to their resolve for creating a more Perfect socialistic republic in Latin America. This new offensive from the Right in Latin America relies on discontent with economic conditions that have been created by the United States foreign policy in the World with the objective of aligning World governance with the American Model of governance for the benefits of the American People.

    1. Price of crude in the World Market.
    2. De-stabilization in North Africa and the Middle East
    3. The Financial Crisis in the United States created by Greed.
    4. Intervention in Mexico, Central America, Venezuela, Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, etc.
    5. Immigration tragedy (250,000 immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa)

    Incredible that so many Latin American People (including Cubans) are willing to “cash in” on the United States foreign policy for their own personal agendas and visions of governance knowing full well from history that doing so has always cost more to Latin American Countries than the benefits of subjugation to American interest in the Hemisphere.

  19. HUMAN RIGHTS RIGHTS AUDIO: LatAm Minute: HRW’s José Miguel Vivanco on the Leopoldo López Verdict- Less than three months before Venezuela’s parliamentary elections, a Caracas municipal court sentenced opposition politician Leopoldo López to nearly 14 years in prison on charges of, among other things, intentionally inciting violence during February 2014 protests. López is widely seen as a leading voice of the opposition—or, as he has put it, the alternative—to the chavista government, headed today by President Nicolás Maduro. In this Latin American Minute, AS/COA Online’s Holly Sonneland spoke with Chilean legal expert José Miguel Vivanco, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Americas division, who explained why the trial was “a farce” judicially and a “clear case of manipulation” by the Maduro administration, both in the courts as well as the court of public opinion.


  20. I think the Democracy for Latin America Organizations and Cuba should ask the Pope to canonize Lopez. The activists then should contract El Sexto to paint a mural on the ceiling of a Havana church of Lopez with wings (you know like an angel) and the words Democracy, Liberty, Freedom and Human Rights on a flag held by Lopez. After all, just like the belief in God, the belief in all of the above has only inspirational value and gives people hope. We all know that just like God, it is an invention of Man to rule Man.

  21. Last night Marco Coello, the youngster from Vzla who had to flee to the US because of torture and no prospect of a fair trial, was interviewed by CNN. If anyone needed more evidence of what a disaster Vzla is, there it was.
    As for the young man they interviewed the night before, the main question to him was about political vs popular opposition. Then he answered that the MUD is useless, but that the popular opposition is strong because of the lack of everything, including safety and security…

  22. The first electoral reform of Chavez was getting rid of all independent observers, usually at the point of a gun.

    Only the kool-aid drinking brigade are now invited to observe Venezuela’s marvelous democracy at work.

  23. It’s a failed State in every way, and in a mere decade of no education, it will be Somalia.
    Mad Max: thugs in the street and war lords. How very sad.

  24. President Maduro is smart enough to recognize that those “international observers” work for someone and that “someone” is not the Venezuelan people. I say: stay away from heavy drugs and “international observers”.

    They will not observe the voting process in the Unites States where scores of voters cannot exercise their rights because they have a past conviction and no money to restore their right in the judicial process. They will not observe the FISA court sessions either.

    The “international observers” were invited by Russia, when the inhabitants of Crimea were casting their votes to join – or not to join – Russia. None has shown up. Any idea why?


    BLOOMBERG: Venezuela’s President Starts to Look Desperate – By Mac Margolis

    Deporting immigrants at rifle point, reigniting long-settled claims to a neighbor’s oil reserves, sending soldiers instead of groceries to depleted supermarkets — just when you’d think Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro could go no further to turn his country into an outlaw state, the leader of the Bolivarian Republic has trumped himself — criminalizing dissent.

    Technically speaking, Judge Susana Barreiros’s ruling was the act of the independent Venezuelan judiciary. Yet during the lengthy trial, Lopez, a 44-year-old Harvard-trained economist and former Venezuelan mayor, was barred from presenting physical evidence and allowed to call only two defense witnesses — direct violations of Venezuelan due process — and the media was locked out of the courtroom.

    The prosecution, on the other hand, summoned more than 100 witnesses, and though none placed Lopez at the scene when violence flared, Barreiros gave him the maximum sentence.

    Take your pick; the Lopez conviction was anything but a surprise. In the revolution Hugo Chavez built, nearly 70 percent of judges hold temporary posts, meaning essentially they serve at the pleasure of the country’s political bosses.

    Fealty starts at the top. The 32 justices of the Supreme Court are elected by the Venezuelan National Assembly, where thanks to a decade and a half of gerrymandering the governing United Socialist Party rules. A study published last year showed that in more than 45,000 sentences handed down by the Supreme Court from 2004 to 2014, the government never lost a case.



  26. Last night Fernando del Rincon of Conclusiones on CNN en Español inteviewed a young Venezuelan who defined himself as a leftist. However, he’s no Chavista, and he said that the united opposition called MUD(!) only cared about gaining a few seats in Congress, not about the lack of everything, from the most basic items to cancer treatment.
    That’s a message that needs to be repeated over and over again around the world: Our leaders’ and politicians’ job is to organise society in a way that benefits its members.
    When Corina M. couldn’t run for congress the MUD didn’t allow the candidate she proposed to run.
    Before I wrote that Leopoldo, Lilian and Corina and many others are red hot with resolve, but I want to change that to white hot. They’re not just politicians or leaders, but an unstoppable force!

  27. Whoever says “A REVOLUTION DOES NOT LAST 56+ YEARS” does not understand the difference between a revolution and a coup.

    The Cuban revolution may last even 1000 years. A goal of a revolution is not to overthrow a government (that would be a coup) but to build a new society and always adapt it to the new realities. Dialectics is the most basic principle of marxism-leninism: the world is in constant change and so should be a revolutionary society.


  28. Humberto….I cannot believe that you are suggesting that because Lopez ancestry line goes back to Simon Bolivar, somehow qualifies this character to be a head of State. You just lived through George Bush Junior’s Administration in the United States. A large number of people voted for him because of his father….what a turd he turned out to be. Leaving air force one parked on the tarmac while the country was under attack and many more bonehead decisions he gets credit with.
    For a while now Latin America is under attack by an U.S. offensive to bring about change in the region that will guarantee access to raw materials. China’s influence in the region is a problem. China is a leftist government and its influence in Latin America has turned the “pendulum” of ideology to socialism. The United States Rich, in particular, see this as a threat to their monarchy.

  29. Humberto….Humberto…Lopez does not have the majority support of Venezuela’s Right
    Wing Party….The hegemony of the United States and “want to live like Americans even though I can’t pay for it” Democratic Organizations around Latin America (including Cubans in exile) are the only ones willing to canonize this fake prophet with promises that cannot be delivered.


    PANAM POST: Leopoldo López: “I’m Freer than Ever, Fighting for Our Future” – by Pedro García Otero

    “I don’t regret at all the decision I made. Great causes require great sacrifices,” Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López expressed in a letter on Friday, September 11, one day after Judge Susana Barreiro sentenced him to 13 years and 9 months in prison.

    “They won’t be able to divide us … and sooner or later, we will celebrate together, rejoicing in the fact that we live in a better Venezuela.”

    López’s wife, Lilian Tintori, read the letter publicly at a gathering at José Martí Plaza in Caracas — the same location where the Popular Will leader turned himself in to authorities a year and a half ago.

    “Over a year ago, I knew I would be jailed. I did not hesitate to move forward.… I made the decision fully aware of what I was facing, and I don’t regret it.”

    In his letter, López also imparts a message to his family: “Tell my kids that I am not imprisoned. Today, I’m freer than ever, fighting for their future.”

    A Venezuela court convicted López on charges of conspiracy, incitement to violence, arson, and damage to public property. Human-rights NGOs Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have each condemned the controversial ruling.


    Lopez first ventured into politics in 2000 when he co-founded the political party Primero Justicia alongside Henrique Capriles Radonski and Julio Borges, and ran successfully for the mayorship of the Chacao Municipality in the regional elections held in July 2000. Lopez has received multiple awards for his transparency and support of democracy.[1][2][3][4][5][6]
    López is a “political blue-blood,” in the words of The Guardian, who comes from “one of the most powerful families in Venezuela.”[22] López’ mother, Antonieta Mendoza, is the daughter of Eduardo Mendoza Goiticoa, who was Secretary of Agriculture for two years during the Rómulo Betancourt years that lasted from 1945 to 1948. Through her, López is the great-great-great-grandson of the country’s first president, Cristóbal Mendoza. López is also the great-great-grand nephew of Simón Bolívar. Bolivar’s sister, Juana Bolivar, is López’s great-great-great-great-grandmother, making him one of Bolívar’s few living relatives.[23] His great-uncle Rafael Ernesto López Ortega was Minister of Education during the presidency of López Contreras. His grandfather Leopoldo López Ortega and great-uncle Rafael Ernesto López Ortega were both doctors, founders of the Centro Medico of San Bernardino in Caracas.[24]


    VOICE OF AMERICA: Cuba Detains Dissidents Ahead of Pope Francis Visit

    HAVANA— Cuban police detained about 50 people when a predominantly Roman Catholic dissident group led a march in Havana on Sunday, less than a week before Pope Francis visits the communist-ruled country.

    Such detentions have become common following regular Sunday marches by the Ladies in White, a group that has criticized the Roman Catholic Church and Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega for failing to advocate on its behalf with the Cuban government.

    Ladies in White leader Berta Soler told Reuters the women planned to attend masses that Pope Francis will lead in Havana and Holguin while in Cuba from Sept. 19-22. The pope will also visit Santiago de Cuba.

    “I would discuss with the pope the need to stop police violence against those who exercise their freedom to demonstrate in public,” Soler said.

    Cuba’s government considers the dissidents to be provocateurs who are financed by anti-communist groups in the United States as part of an effort to destabilize the government in Havana.

    In their weekly rally following mass at Havana’s Santa Rita Catholic Church, about 40 of the women, accompanied by about a dozen male supporters, marched outside their authorized route and down a side street where they were set upon by some 200 government supporters and police.

    Female police pushed, pulled and carried the women onto buses as some sat down in an attempt to resist. The men were handcuffed and shoved into police cars and vans.


  32. So the US “expresses concern” about the sentecing of Leopoldo!?
    Yes, I call him by his first name, because now everyone who loves justice is with him and are the brothers and sisters of also Lilian and Corina and most of all the Vzla people. Even most Chavistas can wake up and snap out of the dream they’ve been sold that’s become a nightmare.
    Whatever else Pres. Obama may be, he isn’t stupid. The warming up to Cuba isn’t about giving away and receiving nothing, but about influence in Latin America and maintaining the status quo.
    Vzla is being destroyed and the Cuban people has to keep on suffering, but all they get from their powerful neighbour is “concern”!?

  33. Hey Mario,

    Nice quote from Mao, murderer of over 50 million innocent Chinese.

    Any quotes from Jack the Ripper or the Boston Strangler or the Unibomber?

    If a revolution ever overthrows the idiot class, I’m sure you’ll be begging for mercy.

    Fortunately for you, people like Lopez never ask for revenge. You’ll always be free to be an idiot.

  34. A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.



    Latin American leaders like Simón Bolívar knew that the United States could not offer military support, but it did give weight to the argument that Latin American states had the right to self-government and self-determination. The influence here was that Latin America had the right to choose its own political systems. Many chose to follow the United States in creating a republican government with an emphasis on the separation of powers.

    Latin America saw indirect influence become direct influence in the third stage, beginning with Theodore Roosevelt’s supplement to the Monroe Doctrine, the Roosevelt Corollary. This stated that the United States should exercise military force in Latin America to keep it free of European influence. An early example of this, although starting before the Roosevelt Corollary was set forth, was Cuba’s period as a United States protectorate — after Spain relinquished its claim of sovereignty — from 1898. When Cuba gained independence four years later, the right of the United States to intervene in Cuban affairs was specifically written into the new country’s constitution. Twentieth-century Latin America saw military interventions a further twenty-three times in Cuba (1906–9, 1912, 1917, 1961), the Dominican Republic (1905, 1916–24, 1965), Guatemala (1954), Honduras (six times between 1911 and 1925), Mexico (1914, 1916–17), Nicaragua (1912–25, 1927–33, 1981–90), Panama (1903, 1989), and Haiti (1915–34, 1994).

    The United States also used its secret services heavily throughout Latin America, as typified by its involvement in the overthrow of Chile’s first democratically-elected government and its replacement by Pinochet’s military dictatorship in 1973. In this we see the United States abandon its early support of Latin American democracy and its promise of non-involvement replaced with a policy of both direct involvement and putting its own interests before that of Latin America’s.

  36. Democracy according to the Right Wingers that support Free Speech, Democracy, Liberty and Human Rights ( a camouflage for right wing dictatorship with the help of Corporatism)- Leopoldo Lopez, an individual that only commanded less than 15% of the support of the Venezuela People during the elections, decides that he does not like the result of the elections in Venezuela. He takes leadership of a demonstration orchestrated by proxies of the United States with the intent of regime change, fails, is responsible for killing 43 people and gets arrested. The Venezuelan elections were monitor by international organizations. Jimmy Carter himself claims that the Venezuelan elections were the most honest and clean he had witness in Latin America in recent years. Now Mr. Lopez has become larger than life and the poster child for every U.S. proxy democratic organization and activists in Latin America. These groups are trying very hard to make him into a symbol of an individual that stands for “Free Speech”, “Democracy”- the Right Wing style one, and “Liberty” model after the apartheid economic system of Capitalism with 72% of the population living in economic prisons so that 28% live in privilege. Fortunately, the people of Latin America has seen this offensive before and are not going to be fooled again. The workers unions, cooperatives, organizations that have experience first hand or learned of the exploitation and imperialism in Latin America for the last two centuries will not surrender to false prophets like Lopez or any other Right Winger.

  37. COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Leopoldo Lopez , John Kerry, and the Uses of English – by Elliott Abrams
    This statement reads like a parody of State Department blather. We’re “deeply troubled?” We have “concerns” that are “underscored?” Can’t anyone at State speak English? We “consider” the charges against Lopez “illegitimate.” That’s nice, but it seems to be an expression of opinion: we “consider” them illegitimate, but others may disagree, I guess. The trial “raises great concern” about events in Venezuela–again, concern. Was it impossible for Kerry and his staff to escape the usual, boring, weak words like “deeply troubled” and “concern” that no actual human being ever uses in speech? Was it impossible today something like Amnesty and HRW said?

    What Secretary of State John Kerry said. Here is his statement in full:

    The United States is deeply troubled by the conviction and sentencing of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. The decision by the court raises great concern about the political nature of the judicial process and verdict, and the use of the Venezuelan judicial system to suppress and punish government critics.

    Since Mr. Lopez’s arrest and imprisonment in February of 2014, we have underscored our concern with the charges brought against Mr. Lopez—which we consider illegitimate—and we have repeatedly called for his release and for the release of all Venezuelans who are imprisoned for political reasons. We call on the Government of Venezuela to respect the rights of all political prisoners; and to guarantee fair and transparent public trial, consistent with the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Venezuela’s Constitution.


  38. A Leopoldo Lopez website needs to be started. It could be a wiki where many supporters could contribute ideas and suggestions for keeping him in the world’s eye until Mad Madismo relents.
    Corrupt judges and political tyrants need to be exposed on line.


    THE ECONOMIST: Left-wing regimes pose a moral challenge for Pope Francis – BY ERASMUS

    Papal diplomacy played a vital role in paving the way for last December’s diplomatic breakthrough between Cuba and the United States. Jimmy Burns, author of a newly published biography of the pope, sees this as clearly the greatest diplomatic achievement of the papacy. And true to Francis’s style, the Vatican has followed the advice of Cuban bishops (who are perforce more cautious than their Venezuelan counterparts) and encouraged a gradual sort of change on the communist-run island.

    But for some critics, the Holy See has paid for its cordial relations with Havana by treating the regime with undeserved leniency. Cuba’s Cardinal Jaime Ortega said in June that there were no political prisoners in the country: this was rejected as “betrayal” by some recently released inmates who insist that some prisoners of conscience remain inside. The “Ladies in White” movement of Cuban dissidents has asked for a meeting with the pope but recently they have found little sympathy from the Vatican.

    In the course of his travels the pontiff, who has shown real eloquence in condemning the excesses of the capitalist north, can still expect some hard questions about his attitude to excesses of another kind. Will he denounce left-wing authoritarianism as much as he has denounced the right-wing variety?



  40. ***
    Simon Bolivar fixed these problems many years ago. Time for Revolution II!
    Simon Bolivar arreglo estas problems hace muchos anos. Tiempo por Revolucion II!
    John Bibb

  41. YOUTUBE: La celada contra Leopoldo López – Leopoldo quiere compartir con ustedes este video que presentará mañana 10 de septiembre en las conclusiones de su juicio amañado y secreto. Por favor ayúdenme a compartirlo. Mil gracias! LT – A través de la red social Twitter, Lilian Tintori hizo público un material videográfico que presentaría este jueves su esposo, Leopoldo López, en las conclusiones de su juicio.The ambush against Leopoldo López
    Leopoldo want to share with you this video that he will presented tomorrow September 10 at the conclusion of his rigged and secret trial. Please help me to share . Thousand thanks! LT – Through the social network Twitter, Lilian Tintori released a video footage Thursday that it would be presented by her husband, Leopoldo Lopez , at the conclusions of his trial

  42. REUTERS: U.S., Cuba set agenda on improving relations – By Daniel Trotta
    Cuba and the United States on Friday set an agenda for improving relations, putting a priority on more easily attainable agreements while leaving aside difficult issues such as the U.S. trade embargo and naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba said. The two sides put a priority on environmental protection, natural disaster response, health, civil aviation and law enforcement issues such as drug trafficking, Cuban officials said. A second, more difficult block of issues included human rights, people-trafficking, climate change and epidemics, Cuba said.

    A third, longer-term agenda included U.S. claims over properties nationalized in Cuba after the 1959 revolution and Cuba’s claims for more than $300 billion in economic damages from the United States for the embargo and for what it says are other acts of aggression.”We have set an agenda of things both countries can start working on immediately with the idea of offering results,” Josefina Vidal, the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s chief of U.S. affairs and leader of the Cuban delegation in the talks, told reporters.


  43. Corina Machado, the other strong woman in Vzla said it first, that Leopoldo won’t serve out his sentence, because change is coming long before that. Those two women, Lilian and Corina, are so angry they’re red hot and ready to suffer ANYTHING to save their country.
    They want to do it peacefully, but change that’s as enormous as what Vzla needs is never smooth. Too many have drunk the Chavista kool-aid.
    Finally the world has noticed Vzla. Maybe that’s worth something too?
    Oh and regarding oil, there’s too much of it, the price may still go lower. They’ll have to “move more product” for the FARC. The DEA needs to get busy…

  44. Thank you for this post. What a cowardly and heinous act by Maduro and his failed state!
    Outrage does not express the feeling when a man who wants to save his country for the people he loves is imprisoned by a busdriver desperate for his pitiful delusion of power.

  45. Leopoldo Lopez has only chosen peace his whole life. He was rated of the most progressive and transparent mayors in the world. He led the fight against corruption in Venezuela.

    For this he was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

    Chavez gave drug cartels and gangsters total control of Venezuelan streets in order to get their backing in rigged elections. Chavez purged Venezuela of democracy in an operation managed by the Cuban military.

    Since Chavez came to power, Venezuela has become one of the most murderous dictatorships on earth.

    The democracies remain silent as our leaders grovel before oil-fat dictators.

    If an embargo was good against South Africa, why not against Cuba and Venezuela?

    There will be a lot of words by our politicians, but we will continue to buy Venezuelan oil.

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