Leopoldo López

Political leader, activist and symbol of the opposition in Venezuela

Language:

English, Spanish

Leopoldo López is a political leader, activist and symbol of the opposition in Venezuela. Declared a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International, Leopoldo López was sentenced to 13 years in prison, where he remained for 5 years until he was pardoned in 2019 by the interim President of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó.

Prior to his incarceration in the military prison of Ramo Verde, he was politically disqualified on two occasions, the first of them during his promising race for the metropolitan mayor of Caracas, at which time Voluntad Popular, the political party he coordinates and which vindicates the rights of Venezuelans, was created. Despite a favorable ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, his political rights have never been restored.

Previously, Leopoldo López was Mayor of Chacao, and his administration won him reelection with 81% of the votes and the World Mayor award in recognition as one of the three best mayors in the world.

The main human rights organizations (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights...) have spoken out against his detention, which was qualified as arbitrary, following the death of two citizens in the course of a peaceful demonstration. Numerous political personalities and world leaders have also joined these demands.

Leopoldo López is considered by many to be an example of survival and perseverance. Despite his dramatic stay in prison, with long periods of isolation, his judicial and administrative processes (more than 20) and an inexhaustible political and humanitarian struggle as a result of the persecution to which he has been subjected, Leopoldo López has been able to resist with resilience, conviction and triumph in the face of adversity.

He is the author of the books Preso pero libre and Venezuela Energética, which he wrote while in prison. Leopoldo López graduated Cum Laude from Kenyon College and holds a Master's degree in Public Policy from the John Fitzgerald Kennedy School at Harvard University. Among his numerous recognitions stands out the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2017, awarded by the European Parliament.

Speaking topics:

Personal story:

- Resilience and Triumph: The Story of Leopoldo López, freedom icon in Venezuela. How to keep faith and purpose when being deprived from liberty. Family support. Cases of inspiration, Nelson Mandela as an example.

Latin-American context:

- Where is Latin America heading?
- Threats to democracy. Is democracy viable in the region? The expansion of populism.
- Political and economic priorities in Latin America.
- Impunity, human rights and crimes against humanity in authoritarian regimes. Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
- Information manipulation in an age of dictatorships. The use of social media as a toxic misinformation weapon, the case of Venezuela.

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