Venezuelan Opposition Leader Unjustly Sentenced to Prison
Yesterday, Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López was sentenced to 13 years and nine months in prison. After being detained since February of 2014, he was found guilty of conspiracy, arson, damaging public property, and inciting violence during a political protest last year that ended in the deaths of 43 people.
López founded the party Voluntad Popular in 2009 to defend the rights of all Venezuelans and oppose the dictatorship of Hugo Chávez and Nicólas Maduro. In February 2014 he called for peaceful protests to address the country’s high levels of violence, shortages of basic goods, and to oppose President Maduro. Hundreds of thousands of protestors took over the streets of Venezuela. When state police intervened more than 3,000 were arrested and 43 were killed.
The legal charges blamed him for deaths during the protests. The long-delayed trial followed many irregularities. With Venezuela’s lack of judicial independence, the ruling was announced without any evidence linking him to the crimes.
In return for Venezuela’s economic lifeline to Cuba, which has provided the communist island with more than 120,000 barrels of oil a day, Cuba provides the Venezuelan government with advice on how to monitor internal opposition and stifle dissent. This intelligence network led by Cubans keeps all dissent throughout the country monitored and is ready to take drastic measures if protests break out. Moreover, Venezuela has taken Cuba as an example that there are no meaningful repercussions from the U.S. or other countries for continued human rights violations.
Read the entire article HERE.